I own the 9 symphonies conducted by Furtwangler, Walter, Reiner,Toscanini , Klemperer (1885-1973) and most of Scherchen's versions of these symphonies, whose tempi is often swifter then Toscanini. However, these Klemperer Beethoven symphonies are recorded live in Vienna with the Philharmonia orchestra. How do I know. Clapping at the end of the works. Recorded May 29th-June 7th 1960. The conductor was known for his monumental interpretation of these symphonies whose architecture he revealed. You can immediately tell when you hear these symphonies, that it is Klemperer conducting, because of the unique sound he creates, with Its forward movement and a gradual change of tempo. For he allows you to feel Beethoven's personality through the music; unyielding, tough minded, determined, a man who is out of sorts with the World, but is in touch with the universe. But underneath all that is a sensitivity expressed through sound. "Klemperer's acid wit and tough discipline earned him a wary affection amongest the Philharmonia orchestra. His solidarity saved the orchestra from disbandment and he conducted it until his 87th year." (Lebrecht : Pg 59).
The box that contains the 10 CDs is tough and small. The lid opens backwards, where you can place CDs you wish to play later on. The wording is printed in Cobalt blue, with a picture of darken trees and clouds. 10 CDs collection on the front. On the back in black wording, Beethoven the complete symphonies. The same for Brahms and Kempe. The sleeves are made of cardboard, with wording and picture exactly the same as the box and in large letters the CD number. Behind, the work to be played, and track numbers with date recorded. The CD itself, is a Bluey green colour, with a white tree. The symphonies and overtures are printed in white, so is everything else, including the CD number. compact disc digital, Mono and Stereo on each CD, plus ADD. The sound is good for a live recording. CD 3 and 4, have symphony no 2 and 7, 4 and 8. No booklet, so at the end of the review I will create one for you. The CDs are easy to pull out of the sleeve.
The only way to hear Klemperer is live. For example, I own Bruckner's 4th,(1954) 7th (1957) and 8th (1958) symphonies. The 8th Symphony is a marvel, especially the adagio. He seems to understand the organ like quality of Bruckner, as he understands Beethoven's sound World. Take Beethoven's 7th Symphony, 4th movement, Klemperer starts off slowly, like a person thinking, I don't really want to dance, must I. I suppose I should. Then the person hobbles onto the floor and gradually warms up, and then is flying around the dance floor. His 9th is magisterial, but the Adagio borders on the spiritual, yet in the last movement, again the conductor builds up the tension to reach a crescendo, with singers such as Wilma Lipp (soprano), Ursula Boese (Alto), Fritz Wunderlich (tenor), Franz Crass (Bass). Wiener Sinverin der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde. For this 9th alone, the price of this set is worth every penny. The 4th Symphony is marvellous, Klemperer is never less then interesting. I believe this set of Beethoven symphonies to be better then Klemperer's studio recordings. Also, included live, are the overtures, Egmont, Coriolan and the creatures of Prometheus.
Kempe (1910-1976) is known for his conducting of EMI's Wagner's Lohengrin, with Thomas, Grummer, Fischer-Dieskau, Ludwig, Frick with the Vienna Philhamonic. Also, his Ring cycle, especially Gotterdammerung, with Nilsson, Hoff, Stewart, Frick, Ingrid Bjoner. I saw her live at La Scala, Milan, as Isolde in the mid 1970's. Now, recently, Warner has released Richard Strauss's orchestral music with Kempe conducting the Staatskapelle, Dresden. (see my review). Now to the four symphonies of Brahms, the Munchner Philharmoniker conducted by Kempe, 1975 -1976. He is freely expressive with his tempo's, but his freedom is very different, with far less extreme changes of tempo. Kempe has his finger on the natural flow and pulse of these symphonies, especially the No 1 Brahms symphony. Not for him, the crashing drums of Klemperer's famous recording of this symphony. This particular symphony is alone worth the price of this very cheap set. In the quieter passages of the symphonies he gently brings the melody to the forefront, but when required there is a forward emotional pulse, building up the tension gradually, not suddenly. A totally different approach to Klemperer's famous recording of the Brahms four, and Thielemann's new C Major rendition of the four symphonies, swifter then you would expect. (See my review).
From what I can gather, Klemperer was the youngest protege of Mahler. He turned the Kroll theatre in Berlin, into a opera house for the people, with accessible works at affordable prices. The tickets were sold far in advance to music societies and workers clubs. In the space of four years he turned the Kroll into the Worlds foremost experimental experimental company, performing classics in modern settings, like Wagner's Flying Dutchman. Naturally, the Nazi's attacked the Kroll. He also conducted Mahler, when not involved with his theater. He was attacked from all sides. Klemperer saw this experience at the Kroll as the most important in his life. A month after Hitler came to power he left Berlin, then Germany, escaping to Switzerland; ending up in the USA. After the National Government building burnt down, Hitler held some of meetings at the Kroll, which is very telling.
When he became mentally high; he suffered from depression, he chased women. He was once horse whipped in the Hamburg opera by Elizabeth Schumann,s jealous husband. As Klemperer once said " Walter is a great moralist. I am an immoralist." He had a dry sense of humour. He liked to watch childrens programmes on T. V. Kempe was an oboist in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, before he became a conductor. One action sums up the man, he left his orchestra and joined the German army rather then obey a Nazi order to dismiss his best Violist. These recordings of Brahms were completed the same year he died.