Gould playing Beethoven's 3d
Lipatti playing Mozart 21st
Gieseking playing the Emperor
Brain playing Mozart's horn concerti
Most people on this site got here I assume because of interest in playback systems, headphones specifically. It's not a music specialist or fanatic site - there are plenty of those on the web. Most people here have limited exposure to classical (God, I hate that term) and for those people the Austro/German music world is the natural starting point. Like it or not, they owned serious music for much of the time from 1750-1900. Only in the late 19th c and the 20th did other countries flex their musical muscles - that was the Nationalistic movement. While inexperienced listeners may focus on the German speaking countries, if the interest is pursued eventually Russia, England, France, Spain, USA, Scandinavia, even China and Japan reveal their very significant contributions. But when it comes down to it, even the great composer of those countries held their Austro/German progenitors in highest esteem. The listeners just need time. So much music, so little time.
mbhaub makes an excellent point.
Another obvious one is that most headfi members hail from the US. There is an excellent book by Joseph Horowitz about the trajectory of classical music in the US,
that discusses how Beethoven, Wagner, and Mahler came to dominate US classical music scene.
I am guessing that if we had more members from Europe we would read more about Haendel or Vivaldi, about Bach vocal masterpieces, Italian opera, etc, etc
Stokowski, Toscanini, Walter, Bernstein, Furtwangler, Reiner... all of these are on the top level with Karajan. For more limited repertoire there are dozens more.
You bought the wrong copies. The remastered EMI and 60s DGG boxes sound phenomenal.
Schubert should be romantic, not classical.
Furtwangler just rolled in his grave hearing you mention his name like that with "Little K"
I think one of the problems with Karajan is the pure number of recordings there are out there. Some are pretty dismal and if you stumble upon those early you can have a dim view of his conducting. It takes some digging to collect his best works.