Otto Klemperer(OK) was one of the last century's greatest conductors,and this box set is a super bargain--in fact,most of the performances here can be bought individually,each one costing more than the total of this 10cd set.Performances are taken from radio broadcasts,but in all cases are very fair sonically(mono,of course)but here we have a younger,faster,more dynamic OK than would be the case in his later years.
The Bruckner 8 alone is worth the price--a recent 3 cd set of OK's Bruckner didn't have an 8,a great pity--and when you consider all of the other material,this is a great buy.Well worth the modest outlay.
on 24 January 2012
I am old enough to remember Klemperer's performances with the New Philharmomia in the Royal Festival in the early 1970s. Even then, when, sometimes he looked so ill that he would not even get through the piece, and seemed on occasions to be carried through by a loyal orchestra, he was capable of producing unforgettable moments. Of all these the most sublime was his conducting of the long slow movement in Bruckner's 8th symphony. No-one has ever, to my mind, come nearer to reaching the core of this symphony than Klemperer did on that occasion (though that performance was marred by savage cuts to the last movement). Therefore I was extremely interested to buy this box if only for this.
Although this, as most of the other cds in this set, was taken from a radio recording in the 1950s the sound is very clear and faithful; here we get Klemperer's insights and understanding of musical structure in a performance more lithe and flowing than that of his later years but wonderfully balanced as I remembered it, with chamber orchestra like sensitivity between (for example) horns and strings and the harp (an unusual instrument in Bruckner)
The contrast between the quiet end of the slow movement and the blazing start of the finale is particularly successful.
In this box we also get the wonderful performance of Bruckner's 7th with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra which alone sells on another label for £11.75: this famous performance was described by critics of the time as "song-like, full of streaming lyricism and powerfully shaped climaxes; the music sang and flowed in a manner that seemed to relate it to Schubert's symphonies."
Then we get the 1954 Cologne Bruckner 4. Klemperer conducted this on many occasions and recorded it several times. This is generally reckoned by far the finest of his performances of the work that survives: "dynamic, intense, concentrated and with his hallmark grasp of structure." (BBC music magazine).
So this box at under £9 would be a bargain if it only contained these 3 Bruckner symphonies. But also thrown in are all the Beethoven symphonies (which I have not yet listened to) a powerful performance of the Brahms 2nd piano concerto with Geza Anda, and a fascinating performance of Beethoven's 4th with Leon Fleisher, and strong accounts of Brahms symphonies 1 & 3.
So what are the snags? Only 1. There is no booklet of any kind - so there are no notes on the music and no information of the editions used in the Bruckner (I believe Klemperer used the Nowak edition). However, the orchestras and the dates of the performances are clearly marked on the sleeves and the track times are also listed there. The sound is mono but clear and natural, well balanced not only across the various orchestrasbut between the soloists and orchestras on the concerto disc - which in itself is a tribute to a remarkable conductor. If anyone wants to find out why as shrewd an impresario as Walter Legge brought Klemperer to Britain to conduct his Philharmonia and why the orchestra reformed under him when Legge tried to disband it, just let him/her listen to these cds.
on 30 April 2012
I came across this CD-set purely by accident! While I stayed in Vienna last march due to my concerts there. I had some rehearsals near the Maria Hilferstrasse. At the U-Bahn station (U2!) and there's in the basement, this little typical bookstore.. They sell hundreds of Albums issued by Membran Music Ltd!
So I decided to buy a set of Klemperer, since he is 'also' one of my favorites! The price is 10 Euros ONLY!
1. ABSOLUTE topper is the live performance of the 9th Symphony by Beethoven. It is one of the best performances that I ever heard in y entire life.
Of course, 'Live' ..there occur imperfect matters during the uncut recording.. BUT THIS does NOT matter at all. The music emerges from its deepest senses into a majestic quiet 'Tempo di ritenuto', so intense: that one has to bite his lips, not to cry during the famous 'Alle Menschen werden Brueder'.
2. The second Beethoven Symphony (CD6) is also a unique experience. Performed, most likely for a radio broadcast.. in Vienna. But now, luckily for us; public domain. It shows Klemperer in his supreme powers with 'his' Philharmonia Orchestra.
3. Some Beethoven symphonies are taken from the EMI recordings f.i. the 5th recorded in 1955. To my big surprise, the sound on EMI seems FAR superior than this so 'newly' remastered one, though. The recording sound is too sharp, almost also as if they increased the pitch a bit.. sorry to say. ((reminds me on Gehbard 'remastered' records!.. so NOt good))
3. The Bruckner symphonies are also a distinguished treat. Interesting: it are live performances. Surprisingly; Klemperer takes faster tempo's than his colleagues, Furtwaengler, Jochum or Karajan. Especially in the Finale of the VIIIth symphony, it becomes obvious. But also the first movement of the 7th or the scherzo of the 4th seem a bit fast to Klemperer's normal approach.
The recording quality is however inferior to the IXth of Beethoven which is already recorded in 1960.
The radio broadcasts in the 1950's were certainly routine, and therefore little was done to refine an orchestral sound or project the hall acoustics into the living room of the music lover(s).
4. The two concertos are another a proof that Klemperer is a supreme accompanist, as we all know from his legendary recordings with Daniel Barenboim. However, the Anda interpretation seems to be more 'played on safe' than we are used to hear this great pianist in his numerous LP recordings. The Fleischer edition on the contrary seems full of confidence and can compete with giants like Arthur Rubinstein (I love his 5 Beethoven complete piano concertos LP box)
Conclusion: the Klemperer CD BOX is a topper. And therefore worth of owning. Because of the fantastic IXth performance only; one should consider to purchase. Not to speak about the other incredible live performances like the Brahms symphonies!
So a five ***** from me!
on 13 July 2012
An excellent collection with mostly live recordings of Brahms, Bruckner and Beethoven. A must if you are a Klemperer fan. The discs are well filled and the sound is very good. Enjoy!
Symphony No. 1, Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Klemperer, 1955, WDR (Live)
Symphony No. 3, Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1959
Symphony No. 4 "Romantic" (Version: 1878/80, rev. 1886)
Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Klemperer, 1954, NWDR Köln (Live)
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7, Wiener Symphoniker, Klemperer, 1958 (Live)
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 8 (Version: 1889/90)
Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Klemperer, 1957, WDR (Live)
Symphony No. 1, Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1960 (Vienna, Live)
Symphony No. 3 "Eroica", Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Klemperer, 1954 (NWDR Köln, Live)
Symphony No. 2, Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1960 (Vienna, Live)
Symphony No. 7, Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1955
Symphony No. 4, Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Klemperer, 1954, NWDR Köln (Live)
Symphony No. 8, Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer, 1960 (Vienna, Live)
"Egmont", incidental music (excerpts)
Lied: Die Trommel gerühret
Lied: Freudvoll und leidvoll, gedankenvoll sein
Musik, Clärchens Tod bezeichnend: Larghetto
Birgit Nilsson, soprano, Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1957
Symphony No. 5, Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1955
Symphony No. 6 "Pastorale", Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1960 (Vienna, Live)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9
Maria Stader (soprano), Grace Hoffman (mezzo-soprano),Waldemar Kmentt (tenor), Hans Hotter (bass)
Kölner Rundfunkchor & Chor des Norddeutschen Rundfunks, Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester
Klemperer, 1958 (WDR, Live)
BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 2
Géza Anda, Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Klemperer, 1954 (NWDR Köln, Live)
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4
Leon Fleisher, Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Klemperer, 1956 (WDR, Live)
on 4 April 2012
This wonderful collection of recordings adds strongly to my exisiting collection, in that it shows his mastery of the live concert, despite his physical frailty. For anyone who wants to try to understand one of the greatest conductors of all time, a man who dominated in London through the 1950s and 60s,this is a very reasonably priced introduction. Otto Klemperer, being born in 1885 and developing his musical capabilities under the patronage of Mahler, provides that special link from the glorious classical times,inking through to the modern works of the first half of the 20th century. His mastery of Brahms and Beethoven is more than displayed in these recordings and his Bruckner is always controversial because of the cuts he made. This collection of discs is superb value for money.