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Symphonic Music - Released May 24, 2016 | Les Indispensables de Diapason

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
Although best remembered for his devotion to the core Austro-Germanic repertoire, Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan did flirt with the English repertoire in the '50s and early '60s. There are EMI recordings of him leading the Philharmonia in Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis and Britten's Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge and rehearsal recordings of him leading the Orchestra Sinfonica della RAI di Roma in Walton's First Symphony. His last affair was this 1961 performance of Holst's The Planets with the Vienna Philharmonic. Recorded in bone-crushing -- but still deep and colorful -- sound by John Culshaw, Karajan's view of The Planets, like his view of Vaughan Williams and Britten, is decidedly superficial. This is not to say that his conducting is anything less than superb. Karajan was one of great technical virtuosos and he misses nothing in Holst's monumental score -- not the balances, not the details, not the colors, not the rhythms, nothing. But everything inside Holst's score is more or less missing: "Mars" has power but lacks point, "Venus" has beauty but lacks soul, "Mercury" has speed but lacks strength, "Jupiter" has weight but lacks humor, "Saturn" has mass but lacks fear, "Uranus" has muscle but lacks wit, and "Neptune" has carefully calculated gradations of dynamics but altogether lacks any sense of blissful departure into infinite space.