Two great recordings of two of the greatest choral works. Karajan and Levin swoops the standards of tempi, phrasing and intens music making. Karajan's finest recording of the Requiem. Levin sets the bar a milestone higher. Remastering of the Requiem is confidentional good. Sound quality of K327 is superb.
The mutual admiration society that was Glenn Gould and Herbert von Karajan gave six concerts between May 1957 and September 1959 featuring Beethoven’s C minor Concerto (Berlin 1957) and Bach’s D minor (Berlin 1958, Lucerne 1959). Though neither of the Bach performances has appeared on disc, the Beethoven has had several CD outings. This handsomely packaged “official” transfer by Sony is the best we have had technically.
Between 1961 and 1986, Herbert von Karajan made three recordings of the Mozart Requiem for Deutsche Grammophon, with little change in his conception of the piece over the years. This recording, from 1975, is, on balance, the best of them. The approach is Romantic, broad, and sustained, marked by a thoroughly homogenized blend of chorus and orchestra, a remarkable richness of tone, striking power, and an almost marmoreal polish. Karajan viewed the Requiem as idealized church music rather than a confessional statement awash in operatic expressiveness. In this account, the orchestra is paramount, followed in importance by the chorus, then the soloists. Not surprisingly, the singing of the solo quartet sounds somewhat reined-in, especially considering these singers' pedigrees. By contrast, the Vienna Singverein, always Karajan's favorite chorus, sings with a huge dynamic range and great intensity, though with an emotional detachment nonetheless. Perfection, if not passion or poignancy, is the watchword. The Berlin orchestra plays majestically, and the sound is pleasingly vivid.