Some have likened Herbert von Karajan's "chamber-music approach" to Wagner's Ring cycle in terms of his scaling down or deconstructing the heroic roles. This approach has less to do with dynamics per se than it does with von Karajan's masterful balancing of voices and instruments. He achieves revelations of horizontal clarity, allowing no contrapuntal strand to emerge with an unwanted accent or a miscalibrated dynamic.
Over twenty-five years after his death in July 1989, the controversial Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan remains an enigma. He was the most successful conductor in the history of classical music. Many of those recordings - of Italian opera, of Wagner and Richard Strauss, of Sibelius, Beethoven and Brahms - are treasured by music lovers around the world. Yet, even at the peak of his fame, his performances were variously criticised for being too opulent, too manicured, lacking warmth or spiritual depth.
Esoteric have produced a remarkable transfer that preserves beautifully the hall sound, spatial information and detail. The brass and mass strings have excellent detail, revealing a lot of subtle harmonies and variation – a boon for anything Wagner. This contributes to an overall impression of sophistication and restraint and goes perfectly with Karajan's Wagner.
"…This dramatic and involving 'Parsifal' raises Marek Janowski's epic Wagnerian journey to a new level of excellence that one hopes will be maintained in the performances and recordings yet to come - an exciting prospect for all Wagnerites!" ~sa-cd.net
The compact disc, as a sound carrier, was still on the horizon when Herbert von Karajan urged his record company to utilize the new digital technology in his recordings. Consequently Karajan's Magic Flute, recorded in 1980, became the first release of a Deutsche Grammophon digital production and was first released on LP.