If you are at all interested in Beethoven symphonies, then it is worth buying this unique live recording. The sound quality is not perfect and there are a couple of coughs from the audience in the finale. Whatever you think of the tempo Kleiber chooses (the first movement in particular is fast), he achieves an amazing drive and intensity of expression from the orchestra. This is an extraordinary performance of a well-loved work, which made it sound fresh and exhilarating. I don't know what the audience were expecting, but at the end there is an uncertain pause before they decide to start clapping.
Karajan joked that his friend Carlos Kleiber only conducted when his freezer was near-empty. If so, this was a pity as the Berlin Phil offered to empurple him before staging the 1989 conclave. It was spurned. Oh, to have averted the reign of Abbado the Nice and who knows! Perhaps the Man Perm Warrior would’ve stayed in Albion too with his beloved Birtwistle and Stravinsky!
Whoever remastered this performance of the Pastoral from November 1983 deserves a medal. The circumstances are well-known: notwithstanding the arrangement wherein the Bavarian State Orchestra recorded every performance, Kleiber's son asked a friend to tape this concert on a cassette recorder. As things turned out, the official recording disintegrated in storage. If it were not for the friend's tape (be it Normal, Chrome or Metal), this event would be lost to eternity. Under the circumstances, it’s remarkable how fulsome the sound is. Only the sheer weight of orchestral strings is missing. The clarity is remarkable. Coughers ply their trade in the finale at its commencement.
There’s not much charm in the opening movement of Kleiber’s Pastoral which is a hard-driven affair. Schooled in Karajan ’77, this does not bother me in the least but it’s an acquired taste. The remainder of the symphony is more conservative, tempo-wise. The key repeat in the Scherzo is not observed. Come the Thunderstorm and Thanksgiving of the Shepherds, one stands in Arcadia. The 4 minute applause track is listenable in its own right; at first, the applause is like the lightest of showers before the deluge arrives.
Speaking of tapes, this performance overall might be somewhat chrome-plated and lacking in warmth; even so, it commands attention and a Master is clearly at work.
With thanks to a friend for sending this performance to me.
Carlos Kleiber has always been fascinating in Beethoven (as in most of the selective repertoire he used to play). This unique document of the Pastorale, taped live in Munich in 1983 (according to the liner notes the only time Kleiber performed this symphony), is no exception. His account is intense, urgent, dazzling, to the point of becoming feverish, and is sure to keep one spellbound long after the performance is finished (just as the audience seemed to have been during the actual concert), as if a work deemed familiar was really heard for the very first time. Since the original master tape seems to have been in poor condition, the producers of this CD preferred to use the audio cassette made by Kleiber's son. Although carefully mastered there is quite some tape hiss left. Another minus is undoubtedly the short total time (39 minutes). Yet no admirer of Kleiber or Beethoven's Pastorale should be without this CD.
I love this. I love this more than I can say, but I'll give it a go. While most composers go for the slowed down approach to 'those' parts of first movement, Kleiber grabs it by the throat and runs off with it with maniacal joy. Allegedly sticking to Beethoven's metronome settings, this version takes no prisoners, and while the recording quality is not as good as others (not surprising, given its history) it more than rewards the listener with the alternative rendition offered by Kleiber. Some may consider it an anomaly, some a curiosity, or a museum piece, others an outright abomination, but I am always disappointed by every other version I hear now that I know this one. 'Joyful feelings awaken on arriving in the countryside' - oh yeah...
a wonderful performance.it was singled out as far and away the finest in recent bbc cd review. however it is copy protected, and will not allow transfer to my iPod.would love to listen to it while walking in the countryside. anyone know a way around this problem?
Interesting to read the varied responses on here. On 5th Nov. 2011 this recording was the first choice in Building A Library on the CD Review programme on Radio 3. The reviewer said it won "hands down". Apparently this was the only time Kleiber ever conducted the Pastoral symphony! By contrast some years earlier the choice of a different reviewer was Otto Klemperer. Why not have the best of both worlds!