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Great Beethoven from a Great Musican,
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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!