Most Helpful First | Newest First
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Recordings from a Dinosaur.,
I first started listening to classical music when I was fifteen - in 1964.
My first big crush was Herbert von Karajan.
I think I may have been influenced by the sheer look and feel of 1960s Deutsche Gramophon LP records.
They were twice as thick as American records, came in extra-wide plastic-lined sleeves, and didn't snap, crackle and pop like American records.
The infatuation with Karajan lasted about five years, until I discovered Otto Klemperer and Bruno Walter at my college record shop (what's a record shop?).
The American pressings were still pretty awful, but the music-making was revelatory: Walter was warm and comforting; Klemperer was imposing and majestic.
Still my two favorite conductors of the stereo era.
Both men were dinosaurs: holdovers from the Nineteenth Century who lived long enough to give us stereo recordings.
Bruno Walter made his conducting debut in 1894 and Otto Klemperer in 1905.
Both men's formative years were in the Nineteenth Century.
Young Bruno Walter could be tough. "Old" Bruno Walter with the Columbia Symphony was warm and fuzzy. Musicians loved him: Bruno Walter: The Edition
Otto Klemperer was never warm and fuzzy.
He conducted with his fists and a scowl on his face, and the music sometimes sounded like it.
He stood an intimidating 6 feet, 6 inches tall, and had a reputation (deserved) for mental instability and irrational behavior (nowadays he would be called bi-polar).
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.
The irrational behavior was with him all his life.
Intentional or not, this had an effect on orchestra players.
Pre-World War I musicians have a special mystique for me.
Inter-War musicians as well, but at a slightly less exalted level.
Post-World War II musicians much less so, though there are a few exceptions (Bernstein, Celibidache, Giulini).
The current crop, not at all.
I'm just too old for my own good.
EMI will be issuing eleven new Klemperer boxes at ridiculously low prices in the next 12 months.
This particular volume is basically odds and ends that didn't fit into other categories.
"Otto Klemperer Conducts Romantic Symphonies" seems like a contradiction in Twentieth Century terms,
but Otto Klemperer was actually quite a romantic character by Nineteenth Century standards
- something out of a Victorian melodrama by the Bronte sisters: Suffering and flawed.
5 1/2 CDs of the expected Klemperer repertoire: Mendelssohn, Schubert, Schumann and Weber.
4 1/2 CDs of wild card repertoire: Johann Strauss, Berlioz, Franck, Dvorak and Tchaikovsky.
The Mendelssohn is especially successful.
In this two-fisted performance, the Midsummer Night's Dream is not fairy music. I find it invigorating.
Johann Strauss sounds like Beethoven.
The biggest surprise for me was how well Tchaikovsky responds to the Klemperer treatment.
Warm Kingsway Hall and Abbey Road 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 these composers 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.
REMASTERINGS: The previously issued 1998-2000 EMI remasterings done in 24-bit resolution by Abbey Road Technology (ART) are here (about 80% of the contents of the box).
One disc was remastered in 2011 (Schumann Symphonies 3 & 4).
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.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great and original classical interpretations,
This is a fabulous bargain, bringing some long-deleted recordings back for us. They may be "romantic works", but they are conducted by a great classical symphonic conductor. The Tchaikovsky, Dvorak and Berlioz lose their national characteristics and stand extraordinarily well as written in the score, structure clear, almost no vibrato. To me their greatness is better revealed. I could go into detail but will just mention two. I was lucky enough to hear Klemperer conducting Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique at the time the recording was made. The March to the Scaffold is terrifying, the Witches' Sabbath - taken at a uniquely slow tempo - totally macabre. The tension at the end - captured on the recording - was incredible. Schumann's Spring Symphony - seldom heard - has surely never come across more grandly - even the rather weak theme in the last movement is integrated perfectly. Klemperer was one of the greatest interpreters ever, his oeuvre has a consistency that is remarkable - integrity, structure and the shedding of new light. There must be a Klemperer fan working at EMI Classics to give us these great recordings for comparative peanuts.
38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A veritable cornucopia...,
Good things come to those who wait, as they say, and I have waited precisely eighteen years for EMI to reissue Klemperer's complete cycle of Schumann symphonies. The box set - Romantic Symphonies and Overtures - represents nothing less than an embarras de richesses - where does one begin? The set is positively bursting with classic recordings of such elevated status that it demands one's attention! Under Klemperer's baton Schumann's symphonies have both weight and transparency, losing that impenetrable thickness of texture whch obfuscates inner detail. These Schumann recordings are a revelation and I wouldn't want to be without them. Mendelssohn's "Scottish" and "Italian" symphonies exhibit similar clarity of instrumental texture and despite - at times - somewhat deliberate tempi and insufficient drama and urgency orchestral climaxes have power and conviction in abundance. The incidental music: "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a true classic of the gramophone, fizzing and sparkling with magic and mystery. The "fairies" - the Philharmonia Chorus - "dance with heavier boots", as record producer, Suvi Raj Grubb, once said and the Scherzo's measured tempo lacks energy and could use a sprinkling of "fairy dust", but such minor shortcomings fail to detract from the overall performance which is truly magical.
Klemperer takes his scalpel - sorry baton - to the score of Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique and provides forensic analysis of the notes. The raging flames of romantic passion and unrequited love are somewhat subdued. Nonetheless, the subject matter, with all of its grotesquerie fully intact, is conveyed to thrilling effect. The Philharmonia play magnificently for Klemperer, making this one of the finest recordings of the work available. Franck's D minor Symphony gains in structural coherence when excessive emotionalism is absent and Klemperer's unmannered reading of the score unravels Franck's over-ripe orchestration revealing many details which are hidden in lesser recordings. Klemperer's reading of Schubert's Great C major Symphony is grand in scale and more imposing than is usually the case, as is the Eighth. Schubertian lyricism is more evident in the recording of the Fifth, but it too reveals its darker side under Klemperer's baton.
Klemperer brings Teutonic solidity and Brahmsian stateliness to Dvorak's Ninth Symphony. Once more, measured tempi allow the orchestra to breathe which allows much inner detail to emerge unhindered. There is some beautiful playing from the woodwind and power and precision from the brass and strings adds drama and dynamic contrast to this outstanding recording. Klemperer's recordings of Tchaikovsky's Fourth, Fifth and Sixth symphonies are lacking in orchestral colour and emotional depth - these are not the passionate outpourings of a wounded soul. Klemperer dignifies the music and spiritualizes Tchaikovsky's compositions adding to their stature. The various overtures, etc, are top-drawer recordings and brought much enjoyment, particularly Klemperer's heavyweight rendition of Weber's Freischutz Overture and Mendelssohn's invigorating "seascape", The Hebrides Overture.
The passage of time fails to diminish the impact of these recordings which remain relevant and highly desirable - a rich harvest indeed. I would have paid the asking price for the set of Schumann symphonies alone - my old set was stolen, back in 1994. As box sets go, it doesn't get much better than this, and at the asking price it's a steal!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning value and content,
From the 1960s Klemperer's interpretations have always seemed to me compelling, and to find them available in such box-sets and such attractive prices (with MP3 downloads an automatic addition) proved too alluring to resist. The items arrived as advertised, in good order and speedily. Excellent value all round.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very pleased,
A fine selection of OK's readings of some romantic symphonies and overtures.
He was over 75 years old when these were recorded and his interpretations
have a clarity and coherence second to none
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great pleasure,
As an official 'senior citizen' it is an gives an enormous sense of pleasure to be able to afford and easily download music such as this. I enjoy listening on fairly simple headphones or through a comprehensive hifi system and the results are excellent.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different,
Very different interpretations; clear, rich ,well played, powerful, thoughtful, not I`m sure everybody`s cup of tea and may be not first choice in a number of works but well worth listening to as valid alternatives. Particularly liked Berlioz, Schubert Dvorak and Tchaikovsky 4. Unfortunately, there were fault5s on 2 cds so returned to zoverstocks still waiting resolution, refund or replacement
Most Helpful First | Newest First