Karajan's 1963 Beethoven cycle on SACD

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Karajan's 1963 Beethoven cycle on SACD

I must confess that for various reasons I have been put off Karajan. However, I am now realizing that this may well be a mistake for early Karajan (pre 1980s) may well have many important things to say. I am now realizing that this may be partly because of the transfers. I just got the 1963 Beethoven cycle on SACD (still available on Amazon) and comparing it with the cd cycle, it sounds as though we have two different conductors. The cd transfers sound strident and brash, the sacd sounds natural. I conclude that Karajan live must have sounded quite different to his recordings. It would be interesting to have a discussion about this especially with fellow audiophiles like Parla. Regards Anand

RE: Karajan's 1963 Beethoven cycle on SACD

Anand, you are absolutely right about the SACD transfer of Beethoven's Symphonies of 1963 with Karajan. I have almost all the different versions on CD as well. The SACD sounds much better, cleaner and with much better and fast dynamics.

In this way, I believe even the mid or late Karajan can sound quite "different" with a very good transfer on SACD. In Japan, they have practically embarked on reproducing entire catalogues of the Classic recordings of EMI, DG, RCA, Decca, etc. Unfortunately, all these are out of the miser Europe's league (too expensive and difficult to order).

In sum, as I have, on different occasions, said the CD is a product. The better made, the better sounds. Performances, no matter how good they may be, are subject to the best possible manufacturing standards, so that they may show how good they actually are. Of course, appropriate equipments contribute, to a high degree, to that end.

Parla

RE: Karajan's 1963 Beethoven cycle on SACD

This is an addendum to my post. I have been listening to the Beethoven 9th in the 1963 Karajan cycle on SACD. Simply stunning both as a performance and as sound. I can understand now why Karajan was considered a great conductor. His control over the orchestra is absolute and his sense of the long line unerring. I must add that I have been listening to this on fairly high end equipment-Cadence Arita speakers, Marantz Pearl lite SACD player and amplifier, Van den Hul Revelation speaker cables and Siltech interconnects. 

It is clear that a lot of cd transfers do not do justice to Karajan at all- the soundstage on many of the recordings is flat and to quote the American critic David Hurwitz-"--- incidentally banished the orchestra’s wind, brass, and percussion sections to several decades of sonic purgatory, at least on recordings."

It is a tragedy that Universal has abandoned SACD, it would be great if they transferred many of their classic recordings onto SACD. Unfortunately, crass commercial considerations always seem to win. Anand

RE: Karajan's 1963 Beethoven cycle on SACD

Anand Ramachandran wrote:
It is clear that a lot of cd transfers do not do justice to Karajan at all- the soundstage on many of the recordings is flat and to quote the American critic David Hurwitz-"--- incidentally banished the orchestra’s wind, brass, and percussion sections to several decades of sonic purgatory, at least on recordings."

I wonder how much of that was Karajan's own choice.
I suspect a lot, since he was one of the more tech-savvy conductors, and if the results wouldn't have pleased him, I'm sure he'd shove the guy at the mixers aside and do it himself.
But instead the disbalance and predominance of the strings got even worse in his later recordings.

Which leads to the question: is it ok to remix the tapes so the balance becomes more natural for modern ears, if it was probably the conductor's own choice to put the winds and percussion so much in the background?

I agree that K.'s early 60's Beethoven is amazing, btw. There's still a lot of Furtwängler in it, more than people realize.

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