Legendary conductor’s complete recordings for Deutsche Grammophon and Decca, on 356 discs.
A soon to be released box set containing everything that Herbert Von Karajan recorded for Deutsche Grammophon and Decca has broken records. Containing 330 CDs, 24 DVDs, 2 Blu-rays, 4 tracklist booklets and one hardcover book, it has set the bar for the largest box set ever issued as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. Only 2500 of these box sets will be produced, with each white and gold box individually numbered.
Almost thirty years after his death, many of Karajan’s recordings retain their cult status. The conductor himself was renowned for his commanding presence, his astonishing breadth of repertoire and, most of all, for his formidable musical genius. Karajan became chief conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic in 1955, a position that he held until his death in 1989.
His relationship with Deutsche Grammophon was an unquestionably fruitful one – the conductor oversaw the label’s first digital recording (Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte in 1980) and its first mass-produced CD (Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie in 1982). Their first recording together was in 1939, the overture to Die Zauberflöte with the Berlin Staatskapelle – their last was Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, half a century later. In all, his recordings have sold an estimated 200 million copies.
This latest box set brings all of this together in a single comprehensive collection. Among its 405 listening hours of music are the complete symphonies of Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mendelssohn, Schumann and Tchaikovsky, and Anne-Sophie Mutter’s celebrated recordings of the Brahms, Bruch, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky violin concertos. Also included are several Mahler symphonies, the three great requiems by Brahms, Mozart and Verdi)and 20th-century masterworks by composers like Bartók, Berg, Honegger, Prokofiev, Schoenberg, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss, Stravinsky and Webern. Among the eight operas is Karajan’s benchmark recording of Puccini’s La Bohème with Mirella Freni, Luciano Pavarotti and Nicolai Ghiaurov.
The DVDs include all of Karajan’s documentaries, live concerts and complete video-recorded operas. On the Blu-Ray audio discs are found two monumental sets of works: the 1963 cycle of Beethoven’s nine symphonies and Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Finally, the 140-page book included in the set contains an extended essay by Karajan’s biographer Richard Osbourne as well as more essays, interviews and reminiscences by the conductor’s colleagues and producers – as well as lots of glossy pictures.
Once the set is released in November, it is expected to retail in Australia at somewhere around $1,250.
Karajan: Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon and Decca is scheduled for release November 3 2017.