Herbert von Karajan's recordings of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem in D minor offer an old-fashioned, highly reverent approach to the work, and they share a common manner of interpretation that persisted with the conductor for over two decades. Anyone familiar with Karajan's Deutsche Grammophon recordings of the Requiem from the 1970s and '80s will not be surprised at the extremely slow tempos, heavy orchestral accompaniment, thick choral counterpoint, and nearly operatic style of the vocal soloists, which make this performance suitable only for traditionalists. Fortunately, it's that kind of listener who will seek out this historic recording from 1960, and who will already know of Karajan's penchant for the grandiose. Because the live analog sound from the Salzburg Festival is still a little fuzzy and lacking in dimensions, despite Archipel's digital mastering, this recording has the added burden of sounding a bit ancient to modern ears. Even so, this is no difficulty for Karajan's fans or students of the conductor, who are already adept at listening past the defects of mid-20th century concert recordings. While many listeners would prefer to hear the Requiem performed in authentic 18th century period style, with fleeter tempos, lighter textures, and a leaner choir and orchestra, this recording dates from a time before the historically informed movement and shows what Mozart's Requiem often sounded like to the previous generation. The four bonus tracks are the Overture and excerpts from Mozart's Don Giovanni, also performed at the 1960 Salzburg Festival under Karajan's direction, featuring Leontyne Price as Donna Anna.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Requiem Mass in D minor, K. 626|