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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 January 2012
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.
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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.
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on 27 January 2012
For anyone else fancying this Klemperer there's some very good live/off-air stuff in it but also some EMI material in less good sound than "official" releases.

For me this was worth buying for an extremely uncomprosing Bruckner 8. A sort of anti-Jochum (I love Jochum but the counter view is interesting).

Full content is as follows

Beethoven 1, 2, 6, 8 - Philharmonia live in Vienna (1960)
Beethoven 3, 4, 9 - Cologne RSO live (1954-1958)
Beethoven 5, 7 - Philharmonia 1955 EMI recordings (not the ones from the complete cycle)
Beethoven Egmont - Philharmonia 1957 EMI recording
Brahms 1 - Cologne RSO live (1955)
Brahms 3 - Philharmonia 1959 EMI recording - but see Graham's post below
Bruckner 4, 8 - Cologne RSO live (1954-1957)
Bruckner 7 - Vienna SO live (1958)
Concertos - Cologne RSO live (1954-1956)
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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!
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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!

CD1 [78:14]
Symphony No. 1, Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Klemperer, 1955, WDR (Live)
Symphony No. 3, Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1959

CD2 [55:53]
Symphony No. 4 "Romantic" (Version: 1878/80, rev. 1886)
Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Klemperer, 1954, NWDR Köln (Live)

CD3 [60:25]
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7, Wiener Symphoniker, Klemperer, 1958 (Live)

CD4 [72:05]
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 8 (Version: 1889/90)
Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Klemperer, 1957, WDR (Live)

CD5 [75:17]
Symphony No. 1, Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1960 (Vienna, Live)
Symphony No. 3 "Eroica", Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester, Klemperer, 1954 (NWDR Köln, Live)

CD6 [75:55]
Symphony No. 2, Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1960 (Vienna, Live)
Symphony No. 7, Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1955

CD7 [78:35]
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

CD8 [78:20]
Symphony No. 5, Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1955
Symphony No. 6 "Pastorale", Philharmonia Orchestra, Klemperer, 1960 (Vienna, Live)

CD9 [70:25]
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)

CD10 [76:52]
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)
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on 31 May 2014
Otto Klemperer was one of the great conductors of the twentieth century. Some of his recordings of the Beethoven and Brahms symphonies mostly with the Philharmonia Orchestra are sublime and still provide stunning examples of musical architecture at the highest level. I was lucky enough to attend the Beethoven festival held in the Royal Festival Hall in 1963 when he rendered unforgettable performances of the Beethoven symphonies with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
This set is a real bargain. True, the recordings are mostly live and mono; the sound quality on the whole is average lacking the clarity and dynamics of the better modern recordings. But, the sheer mastery of music making and the profundity of interpretative approach to some of the greatest symphonies ever written provide testament to the art of a truly great conductor.
Highly recommended.
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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.
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on 30 August 2014
Stunning value for £9.99 ! Excellent mono sound but more importantly, terrific performances showing what a formidable conductor the younger Klemperer was in the 1950's. All the performances are outstanding, especially the Bruckners. Of course a few are less so, for instance the Brahms 2nd piano with Geza Anda can't compare with Reiner/Gilels/Chicago on RCA, nor the Beethoven 9th with Furtwangler/Beyreuth, but I reckon the Beethoven 5th is the best ever recorded, even surpassing the Erich Kleiber/Concertgebouw !
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on 5 January 2015
Otto Klemperer was a star conductor of the 1960's when he recorded extensively for EMI. By that stage, however, he was old and ailing and his performances were slow.( By comparing timings one sometimes finds that Klemperer is comparable with more modern conductors but one has to realise that the conductor often omitted repeats.) His Bruckner 8 recorded in 1970 is interminable. This is why this bargain collection from performances made in the 1950's is so valuable. It presents the conductor and the music in a much fresher light albeit with the trade off of poorer sound. The Bruckner is particularly good and the only disappointment is the Brahms which is helped by better sound in the EMI recordings. Klemperer was a great conductor who had his own point of view. The music he brought to life was never bland or routine and could not be regarded as background music. He was not beguiled by beauty in a piece. In this way he was the antithesis of such conductors as Karajan. This set is highly recommended.
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on 17 April 2015
Wonderful value 'set' although the choice of Beethoven Symphony performances is rather arbitrary. Why, for example, include the 1960 First and Eighth with the Philharmonia in Vienna when there are better 1955 versions with Cologne Radio available to the same people? And, conversely, why the rather unstable 1958 Cologne Radio version of the Choral Symphony when the 1960 version with the Philharmonia in Vienna includes the wonderful Fritz Wunderlich as tenor. In all I calculate that only the Beethoven 4th from Cologne included in this box is clearly the best Klemperer version available from the 50s decade. Perhaps the supplier was intent on giving us only second best and preserving the best for other purposes!
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