Berliner Philharmonics are overrated!

January 21, 2006 at 08:04 AM · I bought the 1967 recording of Berliner Philharmonics playing shostakovich 10 under Karajan.

Very impressive untill the solopart during the second movement with the Clarinett and Oboe alone.

Suddenly it wasn´t tight anymore and the clarinett and the oboeparts were clearly out of sync.

I have often heard that the Berliner Philharmonics are the best Symphony Orchestra in the world and that they were even better during the days of Karajan.

Shostakovich 10 is not a hard Symphony and the timing is easy so why didn´t they play in time?

Replies (12)

January 21, 2006 at 09:13 AM · Big deal, so they messed up one time, on one recording, almost forty years ago, and only two players to boot. I think human beings are allowed to mess up once or twice a century, don't you?

I had the good fortune to see the Berlin Phil in rehearsal not too long ago, working on Wagner and Bruckner. They are PHENOMENAL, and completely deserving of the praise they have received. Some of the tightest ensemble playing I have ever heard, period.

January 21, 2006 at 03:32 PM · Check out their live recording of Schubert 9 with Simon Rattle and then tell me they're overrated.

January 21, 2006 at 05:50 PM · Andreas.... Karajan's Berlin Phil can play like Jesus can walk on water.

Get another recording.

January 22, 2006 at 08:37 AM · "Karajan's Berlin Phil can play like Jesus can walk on water."

I heard that too.

Just like Jesus the historical person was propably just a human being the Berliner Philharmonics are/were also human beings.

and human beings make mistakes sometimes.

January 22, 2006 at 09:42 AM · So they make *one* mistake (and it isn't even the orchestra, just two of the players, and they're not even part of the present ensemble today most likely) and thus they are "overrated" as an orchestra?

There seems to be an entire subculture today of classical musicians who make it a point to criticize to the extreme even minor failings of past ensembles/artists in some pitiful attempt to denigrate their achievements.

How can someone judge an entire orchestra from a single recording, a single piece, a single moment in time? It's like banging the pots and pans and hollering about how Heifetz wasn't a great violinist just because "his Chaconne is too fast."

How does that even make any sense?

January 22, 2006 at 04:16 PM · Even supermodels get a zit once in a while...

January 22, 2006 at 07:17 PM ·

January 22, 2006 at 08:16 PM · I agree with Amy- listen to anything with Rattle. He's a great conductor and gets orchestras to sound unbelievable, but let's face it, you need a good orchestra to play that well. I live in Cleveland and there are days when the Cleveland Orchestra misses notes or is out of sync. That's what I love about music (maybe because I make so many mistakes too!) Also, recordings back then were done mostly in one take or with very little splicing, so they accepted more mistakes. The European orchestra style is going to sound different than the American- American orchestra definitely go for technical brilliance (not that there's anything wrong with that) and the European orchestras know how to really make music. Of course there are orchestras in both places that do both- but I do remember the one and only time I heard Berlin live at the Kennedy Center. I almost cried it was so beautiful... To each his or her own though- not everybody is going to love Berlin as much as another will.

January 22, 2006 at 08:33 PM · Jesus was not "just" a human being. He didn't make mistakes. Much better to say that the the Berlin Philharmonic plays like commercial cruise liners float on water. 99% of the time they don't sink. Now and then they do. There isn't an orchestra in the world that doesn't make mistakes with every concert. The player's are just so good that even their mistakes sound good to most people and their mistakes are much less significant than most player's mistakes. In my opinion who cares if even a top notch performer makes a mistake. I like them better for it.

January 23, 2006 at 01:15 AM · Andreas, with all due respect, there are other ways to look at 'how' an orchestra plays than listening to 'a' piece. It's already been said above that one (slightly) bad passage does not an amateur orchestra make, but let's also consider some other things.

The Berlin is in the running for the most recordings made by a symphony, they are in the Guinness World Book of Records for the recording with the most sales (Nigel Kennedy's Vivaldi album), they are one of the highest paying orchestras in the world, and they were, on record(sic), as being the most difficult orchestra to get into at one time.

Now there are orchestras that charge more for performances (I think the Vienna is top now charging over $200,000 for one performance), and the Berlin is under more critical competition than it used to be. But I can still list dozens of recordings (esp. with Karajan) where the precision doesn't get any better, period...and with Rattle I think that's coming back. Karajan was a love or hate sort of conductor, but most loved him.

Personally they don't do my favourite Shostakovich 10th either. I find that several Russian orchestras do a better job. But then again, look at Bernstein and the NY. Many of his recordings are slowwwwww compared to others, but it's hard to find more emotion. It depends on what you're looking for and that part is subjective. Just keep in mind the objective points too.

January 23, 2006 at 03:49 AM · Hi folks - I have the Maazel BPO Rimsky Korsakov Capriccio Espagnol from 1957. Really astounding playing, on DG Originals. Have you heard this CD? Regards.

January 23, 2006 at 08:08 AM · Perhaps the Berliner Symphony are better when it comes to displaying emotion then playing fast.

..Then again the part where they played out of sync wasn´t very fast in 4/4 I would believe it would be apr. 16:s at 170 (mostly scales with lot of chromatics).

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