In a comment to my post on that the live Mackerras Beethoven symphony cycle, Kevin Edgecomb mentions that he has a special fondness for the recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Piano Concerto with Karajan and Alexis Weissenberg.
Kevin and everyone who loves Karajan is luck. Last year was Karajan’s 100th anniversary, and all of the big record companies have obliged with huge, relatively inexpensive collections of Karajan recordings.
- Complete EMI Recordings (Orchestral), 88CDs (track listing). This is the set that contains Kevin’s favorite recording. It is available for $148 from Amazon and £81 from Amazon UK.
- Complete EMI Recordings (Operatic and Vocal), 72 CDs (track listing). It is available for $130 from Amazon and £90 from Amazon UK.
- Legendary Decca Recordings, 9 CDS. This contains the complete orchestral recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic, including the version of Strauss’s Thus Spake Zarathustra used in Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey. It does not include the many outstanding operas that Karajan recorded with Decca, including the version of Die Fledermaus with the amazing gala scene. The Decca box set is available for $72 from Amazon and £31 from Amazon UK.
- Deutsche Grammophon Karajan Symphony Edition, 38 CDs. Deutsche Grammophon is the label most closely associated with Karajan, and this is their big release (albeit, a limited edition). Mostly 1970s recordings: Beethoven symphonies 1-9 and selected overtures; Brahms symphonies 1-4, Tragic Overture, Haydn Variations; Bruckner symphonies 1-9; Haydn (“London” and “Paris”) symphonies 82-87, 93-104; Mendelssohn symphonies 1-5; Mozart symphonies 33, 35-41; Schumann symphonies 1-4; Tchaikovsky symphonies 1-6. It is available for $90 from Amazon and apparently out of print in the UK.
- Deutsche Grammophon Karajan Master Recordings, 10 CDs. See the Amazon description for details. It is available for $120 from Amazon and £68 from Amazon UK.
- Deutsche Grammophon Complete Recordings of Mutter and Karajan, 5CDs. The complete recordings with Karajan’s leading protégé. This should definitely be purchased from the UK, it is $126 (!!) from Amazon but only £25 from Amazon UK.
Clearly, the super-bargains here are the (soon-to-be-out-of-print) DG Symphony Edition and the EMI “everything” box sets. I think even Karajan detractors might enjoy these sets.
There is quite a wealth of super-classical box sets available now, but I must mention (because I think it will be out of print soon) the amazing Stravinsky 22 CD box set or conductor-supervised recordings for a mere £18 from Amazon UK.