Herbert von Karajan

Karajan: Adagio

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In light of the "chill-out" trend of the 1990s, major labels released many albums of slow, meditative pieces to appeal to listeners who wanted relaxing or reflective background music. Deutsche Grammophon's vaults are full of exceptional recordings of classical orchestral music, and the performances by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic are prominent in the label's catalog. The slow selections on Karajan: Adagio are in most cases drawn from larger compositions, though these movements are frequently anthologized as if they were free-standing works. Indeed, many have come to think of the Adagietto from Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 5 as a separate piece in its own right, largely because of its evocative use in the film Death in Venice. Furthermore, the famous Canon by Johann Pachelbel is seldom played with its original companion piece, the Gigue in D major, let alone in its original version for three violins and continuo; it most often appears in an arrangement for strings. All the versions on this album are fully orchestral, and the Berlin Philharmonic under Karajan plays with a full-bodied sound that casual classical fans will enjoy, even if early music purists will find some tracks too lush for their tastes. The sound of this CD is excellent, and even though the recordings are a mix of ADD and DDD reproduction, there is no detectable analog hiss or deficiency of quality.

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