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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brush With Otto Klemperer
You may think me a Philistine (and you might well be right) but day
one of a week's necessary decoration of The Cave has been spent with
Otto Klemperer's Philharmonia/New Philharmonia set of Beethoven's
nine symphonies. There are so many interpretations to be had these
days that it's hard to know where to start but I grew up with these
recordings...
Published 22 months ago by The Wolf

versus
0 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gift
This was bought as a gift and as far as I know the receiver has no complaints - difficult to write a worthwile review in this case (and others)
Published 22 months ago by kiddsred


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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brush With Otto Klemperer, 28 Jan 2013
By 
The Wolf (uk) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures (Audio CD)
You may think me a Philistine (and you might well be right) but day
one of a week's necessary decoration of The Cave has been spent with
Otto Klemperer's Philharmonia/New Philharmonia set of Beethoven's
nine symphonies. There are so many interpretations to be had these
days that it's hard to know where to start but I grew up with these
recordings (one of my Mother's knitting needles stuck through a cork
served as a baton at age eight; sweeping the air as though my life
depended on it!) and I love them as much today as I did then. Now much
older (but not necessarily any wiser) it has been wonderful to return to
them to re-experience (I seem to do it every decade or so) the peerless way
in which Maestro Klemperer deploys his forces. These are old-fashioned
(in the best possible way) renditions. Full-bodied; stately and consummately
poetic in their management of Beethoven's monolithic musical imagination.

If you want versions played on instruments of the period there are plenty
out there to be had but I'm a man for a big band any day! Although his tempi
are generally somewhat slower than many other conductors (and why be in too
much of a hurry says I!) Klemperer's expansive vision of this great body
of work has drama, pathos and nobility in abundance. This is not to say that
he doesn't have his playful side too. The almost sprightly account of the
Second Symphony, Op 36 (especially the mercurial Allegro Molto) is nothing
if not delightful. So too the rumbustious Scherzo (Presto) from the Seventh,
Op 92 but for sheer majesty and breadth Klemperer's Fifth, Op 67 and the
truly glorious Ninth, Op 125 (especially the sublime unfurling of the third
movement's Adagio E Molto Cantabile - Oh those first violins!) are outstanding.

Skirting boards done I'm looking forward to starting on the walls tomorrow
accompanied by the Third, Op 55, Sixth, Op 68 and Eighth, Op 93 (the third
movement of which will doubtless lend its spirit well to some dubiously choreographed
but nonetheless expressive sweeps with the paint brush!) Philistine it is!

Essential.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The orchestra as instrument or polity?, 10 Jan 2013
By 
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Do not believe that Klemperer is always slow, or monumental. His performances can dance.

This is not the performance of an inarticulate bandmaster, or of an ailing octogenarian, though the affection of the orchestra for the latter is one of the things that make his music memorable. As with Beecham and Kertesz, a conductor's trust in his musicians leads to a rivetting musical experience,

Above all, this is an antidote to Karajan and the like, it is music being made, not merely replicated, and Klemperer is a guide, not a tyrant.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Beethoven from a Great Musican, 1 Feb 2013
By 
Geoffrey Bellamy "SamboGeoff" (Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures (Audio CD)
There is nothing lukewarm about this review, or these performances. Everything is serious and dramatic. Klemperer was a towering musician, both physically and as a conductor of music from Bach to the Twentieth Century.
Central to this set is the series of stereo recordings made with the Philharmonia Orchestra in the late 1950s, in fine, big-boned sound, typical EMI of the time. In case some readers are already about to press the escape button, these are NOT slow performances, but they are on the grand scale, as Beethoven surely expected, given the drama he wrote into the music.

This was a time of great uprisings and debate in Europe, Beethoven was a passionate man and had deep thoughts on important subjects. He was not a man to invite to tea and fairy cakes, not unless you wanted a particularly vibrant tea, and were prepared to have your cakes thrown at you. Remember, Beethoven violently scratched out a dedication to Napoleon on the first page of his Third Symphony when Napoleon made himself Emperor. These things mattered to Beethoven, he was that type of man. His music should therefore be approached with that degree of intent and seriousness, if you want to reflect the man in his music, and you should.

Also in the box are the earlier 50s mono recordings of symphonies 3, 5 & 7. These are even more fiery than these later stereo remakes. There are some of Klemperer's last recordings, from the late 1960s. The big piece there is third recording of the Seventh Symphony. This is stately, certainly, but still extremely rugged and intense.

The playing throughout the set is beyond-compare excellent. Klemperer was a fierce man, but a great musician, and other musicians responded to his inherent musicianship with commitment to his vision. There was nothing "Flash Harry" about the man or his music.
Buy this whilst you can, you'll not be disappointed, I wasn't!
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nineteenth Century Beethoven ... in Stereo, 29 Oct 2012
By 
John Fowler (urbana, illinois) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures (Audio CD)
I recently came across this anecdote in Richard Osborne's biography of Herbert von Karajan:

"[In October 1957] Karajan was off to Japan with the Berlin Philharmonic, though not before he made a flying visit to London to hear Klemperer conduct the Eroica Symphony with the Philharmonia.
It was a visit which led to a famous encounter in Klemperer's dressing-room after the concert:
KLEMPERER: Herr von Karajan, what are you doing here?
KARAJAN: I have simply come to thank you and to say that I hope I shall live to conduct the Funeral March as well as you have done it.
Good night." *

Three Nineteenth Century conductors lived long enough to leave us with a complete cycle of Beethoven Symphonies in the new medium of Stereo (beginning in 1956).
I'm fudging a little: Nineteenth Century Romanticism dragged on for a few years after 1900,
But their formative years were in the Nineteenth Century:

- Bruno Walter (1876-1962)..................Debut: 1894
- Pierre Monteux (1875-1964)...............Debut: 1895
- Otto Klemperer (1885-1973)...............Debut: 1905

Their conducting styles were different from each other (and from their younger selves).
Nevertheless, all three had strong personalities which they effectively communicated to an orchestra.
I still listen to these sets with pleasure, which is more than I can say for dozens of faceless conductors who came afterward (no names!).

Monteux's Beethoven is the most "modern" sounding of the three - with the London Symphony and Vienna Philharmonic (distributed by Universal)
- As he aged, his interpretations also changed less dramatically than the other two:
Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1, 3, 6, 8 ~ Monteux - and - Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 2/4/5/7; Pierre Monteux - and - Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

Young Bruno Walter could be tough. "Old" Bruno Walter with the Columbia Symphony (Sony) was warm and fuzzy.
Musicians loved him.
Included in the new 39 CD Bruno Walter Edition: Bruno Walter: the Edition

Otto Klemperer was not warm and fuzzy.
I love Otto Klemperer's Beethoven, but it's not to everyone's taste.
He conducted with his fists and a scowl on his face, and the music sometimes sounded like it.
He wasn't really a terrible old man - his intimidating appearance was the result of surgery to remove a brain tumor, which left him partially paralyzed for the last 30 years of his life.
This only complicated the problems caused by his life-long bouts of mental illness (nowadays he would be called "bi-polar").
He could be difficult to deal with, but the Philharmonia Orchestra and the British public loved him.

Interestingly, according to historical accounts, Beethoven also conducted with his fists and a scowl on his face (he really was a terrible man).
Can this be authentic performance practice?

Klemperer's Beethoven has been reissued several times on CD, but this new collection is the first absolutely complete edition of his EMI Beethoven Symphonies, Overtures, Grosse Fugue, and excerpts from Egmont & Prometheus.
The Concerti, Missa Solemnis and Fidelio are not included - they are available in EMI's Great Recordings of the Century series.

Two CDs worth of mono recordings from 1954-1955.
The rest is warm Kingsway Hall stereo.
Clarity guaranteed by Klemperer's old-fashioned seating arrangement - first violins to the left, second violins to the right - which was, after all, what Beethoven expected.
Not all violins scrunched together on the left, which is the modern preference.

Klemperer's strings were seated in an arc: First Violins, Basses, Cellos, Violas, Second Violins.
You get a remarkable sense of being "inside" the orchestra.
Fun to listen to over headphones.

The new box includes two recordings each of Symphonies 3 and 5, three recordings of Symphony 7, and two recordings each of the Overtures to The Consecration of the House,
Creatures of Prometheus, and Leonore 1-3.

Also - for the first time on CD we have his late (1970) New Philharmonia recordings of Beethoven Symphony 7 and the Overture, Adagio and Finale from The Creatures of Prometheus.

At their best, Klemperer's performances have a cumulative power unlike any other I know.

REMASTERINGS: EMI has conscientiously given us the best available European remasterings (I can't vouch for Japanese remasterings).
6 CDs of 1998 remasterings done in 24-bit resolution by Abbey Road Technology (ART).
3 CDs worth of 2000-2003 remasterings are from EMI's Great Recordings of the Century series (also 24-bit).
There is even 1 CD + of 2012 remasterings.
CD 4 claims to have used 1990 remasterings, but I am skeptical at least of Symphony 4: I have the 1998 remastering and they appear to be identical.
The 1960 Symphony 7 did not appear in the 1998 reissue series, so it may actually be the 1990 remastering.

Highly recommended.

* Richard Osborne, 'Herbert von Karajan: A Life in Music'(1998), chapter 44.
This conversation took place two years after Karajan had achieved his lifetime ambition of being named Conductor-for-Life of the Berlin Philharmonic.

P.S. Five other conductors from this generation also left us complete Beethoven Symphonies, but not in stereo:
- Felix Weingartner (1863-1942).............Debut: 1884
- Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957)...............Debut: 1886
- Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951)..........Debut: 1891
- Carl Schuricht (1880-1967)...................Debut: 1900 (symphonies recorded by French EMI, 1957-58, Symphonies 1-8 inexplicably in mono)
- Wilhelm Furtwangler (1886-1954).........Debut: 1906

P.P.S. Two additional Nineteenth Century conductors - Sir Thomas Beecham (1879-1961) and Leopold Stokowski (1882-1977), left us with a sizeable legacy of stereo recordings, but neither recorded all Nine of the Beethoven Symphonies.

P.P.P.S. Ernest Ansermet (1883-1969) almost made the list, but he started conducting too late, in 1912. He did record the Beethoven Symphonies in stereo (available on Eloquence Australia), but he trained as a mathematician - so he missed all that icky "Romantic" stuff, and was always more at home in the Twentieth Century (highly recommended even so).

P.P.P.P.S. Toward the end of his life, Klemperer sometimes took up the baton again, but he just just stuck it in his fist. Not a baton technician.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GOLDEN AGE, 31 Mar 2013
By 
Mr. W. Greenock (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures (Audio CD)
For me, these recordings come from the golden age of recording - late mono, early stereo. None of the now fashionable 'authentic' performances. Here is full blooded Beethoven in recordings that require no allowances for their age. One of the giants of post-war music conducting a truly great orchestra. What more could one ask ?
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven in his Bones, 5 Dec 2012
By 
R. C. Ross (Birmingham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures (Audio CD)
Just as a contrast to the two previous reviews I'll try to say a little about the music recorded here itself.

Klemperer's way with Beethoven was nothing if not honest. By the 1950's Otto Klemperer drew his signature with a bold, truculent hand. The letter-forms were shaky but defiant. He had endured much. His signature embodies the spirit pervading these Beethoven performances - an essential honesty.

These are bold, defiant, truculent, experienced performances. They represent essential aspects of Beethoven's genius. Dylan Thomas's pleaded that his father should 'rage against the dying of the light'. Beethoven did! So too did Klemeperer. He rages through these symphonies. Despising superficiality; scorning a polished, refined orchestral sound - and the Philharmonia (in whatever form it assumed - PO or NPO) responds with bold, rugged, trenchant strength. The musical 'hand' maybe shaky but the spirit is utterly secure, defiant in adversity.

Klemperer's vision is expressed with a truculent gait (sorry to use that adjective again but it seems too sum up so much of the Klemperer character!), firmly grasped priorities, unbending pride, prominent woodwind, violins divided right and left, thundering timpani (on the last page of the Eroica especially - but still not quite so shattering as with Celibadache!); blazing trombones in the finale of the 5th, galumphing rustic peasant dance in the 'Pastoral' (Klemperer insisted this was a slow Austrian county dance, and the effect is delightful).

It is fashionable to prefer the early versions of the 3rd, 5th and 7th - but the later recordings are quintessential Klemeperer: and in this wonderful set we have them all! This is elemental, undeniable music making. Surely more at one with the elemental spirit of Beethoven than any number of 'authentic' performances.

Comparison with Klemperer's contemporaries uncovers fundamental differences of personality. Klemperer lacks the beauty and grace of Bruno Walter's vision; the deep peace and equilibrium radiating from Ferencsik's pacific performances; the athletic dynamism that drives Carl Schuricht; the felxibility of Jochum; the inventive recklessness of Rattle; the meditative breadth of Celibidache.

All in all Klemeperer convinces by patent honesty, stubborn faithfulness to essential aspects in the physiognomy of Beethoven's spirit. Indispensable - a 'desert island' set of the Beethoven symphonies!
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5.0 out of 5 stars All the symphonies, 19 April 2014
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This review is from: Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures (Audio CD)
Exceptional quality and thoroughly enjoyable. Some historic recordings too ---make a challenge to judge the differing styles of play and instrument.
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5.0 out of 5 stars To me, Beethoven is synonymous with Klemperer., 25 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures (Audio CD)
These recordings were my introduction to Beethoven. I've tried others, but I keep coming back to Klemperer. Gardiner sounds like he was late for the bus, rushing through them to get home for supper. These are from the glory days of stereo vinyl records, and at this price, well...I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars If you are thinking about buying this, think no more., 10 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures (Audio CD)
Beethoven sounds fantastic in the hands of Klemperer and his orchestra.At this price, you'd be silly not to buy this set if you love Beethoven.There are ten cds here.Unbelieveable value...don't hesitate.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything on CD, 30 Oct 2012
This review is from: Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures (Audio CD)
With this issue, Klemperer fans or collectors will notice that the 4 last pieces that where not on CD are now issued, i.e. the Fidelio 1954 overture and the Consecration of the house 1956 (first release with the stereo recording), the 2 last pieces of the 1969 with the New Philharmonia Prometheus scene music (listen to the quietness and all the details not to mention the cello solo from the grand adagio). In 86, with the first Klemperer CD edition they put the 1969 overture instead of the 1957...even Peter Heyworth wrote wrongly in his discography that the 2 other pieces were included (which in 80 minutes is impossible if you have the 6th and Egmont scene music)
OK, that's it, thanks to EMI.
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Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures
Beethoven: Symphonies & Overtures by Otto Klemperer (Audio CD - 2012)
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