Herbert Von Karajan – The Legend

I got this 2CD set out of a cut-out bin at our local shite HMV for $3. As it is a digipak, they only scratched across the barcode on the back (instead of cutting the spine), but whomever’s job it was to do this copy they sure did a lazy job of it. I can barely see the scratch. So that means I basically got a brand new set for $3! Sweet!

I have well-known rants about the pretentiousness of conductors, which don’t necessarily require great length here. It’s just that (very often) they didn’t write the music, they’re making sure other people play it properly, so where do they get off all high and mighty? This should be the Berliner Philharmoniker – The Legend. Anyway. I know the conductor is interpreting the music – but only in so far as the original allows. Karajan is a big name conductor, so he gets his big name, and in the biggest letters, on the cover. Nice work if you can get it.

But man I loved this set, though. It’s a really great mix of tunes (see track lists, below), and very, very ably played. The sound quality is excellent – I liked that I could hear the hiss when I had the good headphones on, makes me think it’s a vinyl not a CD! [NB. I know this is because these are old recordings so the transfer would bring with it a little noise – and I like that!]

I put this on and just drifted away on it. Classical music sends my brain in all sorts of directions, even ones it wouldn’t necessarily go. I’ve read several studies and articles online suggesting that classical music is very good for your brain, and I believe it.

There was only one review of this on Amazon (I went looking to see what the ‘experts’ had to say about this… and to copy the track list so I didn’t need to re-type it all) and this person said the set would be good for neophytes, but then nit-picked that they chose wrong versions of songs – apparently many of these songs were recorded more than once. Good on that person for knowing the difference between recordings, but to me these sound great! If there are better ones out there, then that leaves me more to explore!

An excellent set – should have been waaay more than $3!

Track List:

Disc: 1

1. Ravel: Bolero
2. Debussy: Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune
3. Chabrier: Espana, Rhapsody for Orchestra
4. Tchaikovsky: Symphony #6 in B Minor, Op. 74 ‘Pathetique’ – II. Allegro con grazia
5. Bizet: L’Arlesienne Suite #2 – I. Pastorale
6. Bizet: L’Arlesienne Suite #2 – II. Intermezzo
7. Bizet: L’Arlesienne Suite #2 – III. Menuet
8. Bizet: L’Arlesienne Suite #2 – IV. Farandole
9. Puccini: Manon Lescaut – Intermezzo
10. Johann Strauss II: Die Fledermaus Overture

Disc: 2

1. Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust – Marche hongroise
2. Weber: Der Freischutz – Overture
3. Schubert: Symphony #8 in B Minor, D759 – I. Allegro moderato
4. Mozart: Symphony #40 in G Minor, K550 – I. Allegro molto
5. Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander – Overture
6. Smetana: Ma Vlast – Vltava
7. Sibelius: Valse Triste, Op. 44
8. Johann Strauss II: Tritsch-Tratsch Polka, Op. 214
9. Dvorak: Symphony #9 in E Minor, Op. 95 ‘From the New World’ – IV. Allegro con fuoco

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