If Igor Stravinsky or Béla Bartók had been German post-Romantic composers, then having arch-Teutonic maestro Herbert von Karajan conduct their works might not have been a bad idea. However, because the Russian Stravinsky and the Hungarian Bartók were paragons of modernism, and Le Sacre du printemps and the Concerto for Orchestra were far from Karajan's specialty, he is simply the wrong conductor for this music. In his hands, Le Sacre is undeniably barbaric, but it sounds two-dimensional, clumsy, and heavy-handed, without the proper atmosphere, subtle timbres, or varied dynamics that are needed for Stravinsky's transparent score; the Concerto, from Bartók's late neo-classical phase, is almost bloated and bombastic here, since it is read with the same exaggerated heroics and broad pathos Karajan would have used in his Beethoven and Bruckner. This is not to take away from the expert playing of the Berlin Philharmonic or the fine recording by Deutsche Grammophon, both of which likely kept these performances in the catalog far longer than necessary. But with so many superb all-digital recordings available, many of which surpass this disc in interpretations and sound quality, there seems little need to acquire this ADD reissue except to round out a Karajan collection, a dubious reason even then.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Le Sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring), ballet in 2 parts for orchestra|
|Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116, BB 127|