In 2005 the powers that be at EMI continued to find new and varied ways to repackage their older material, of which they had one of the biggest catalogues in the business (most of it now owned by Warner Classics). In the present album, we get a single disc from a multi-disc collection EMI put together called "The Karajan Collection." The boxed collection featured Karajan's work with both the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic, but this single disc, Promenade Concert, features just the Philharmonia.
The booklet note tells us that the Philharmonia Promenade Concert (1958-1960) comprises the last recordings Karajan made for EMI with the Philharmonia Orchestra before he left for the Berlin Philharmonic. It seems an odd way to go out, this most sober-minded maestro doing a collection of lightweight showpieces, but it's all in good fun, and Karajan genuinely seems to be having a jolly time letting his hair down, so to speak.
|Herbert von Karajan|
The sound appears typical of EMI in the Fifties, leaning rather to the bright, thin side, but with plenty of sparkle and definition. A comparison to another Karajan disc in the EMI series (of Wagner orchestral music) made some twenty years later with Berlin reveals the newer disc sounding fuller and weightier, but not necessarily any better, especially musically.
On a further note, Warner Classics have recently made the album available for download, in whole or in part. So there's another option to consider, given that the EMI disc may now be hard to find.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here: