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on 16 December 2015
I have waited until I had listened to the whole set before submitting my comments. Generally I agree with the positive reviews but it is odd that one person regrets the omission of the St Anthony Chorale which is in fact included. I assume the omission of the two overtures is the fault of the Grim Reaper. It seems the third symphony recording had to be delayed to 1976 due to Kempe's illness. He died in May that year so this must be one of his last recordings. For a work in F this is amazingly bleak and you do get a poignant adieu here even if you did not know the circumstances. The first and fourth are bracing in the typical Kempe manner and the second is exhilarating especially at the conclusion. Quite good stereo sound.
The Beethoven is utterly different. Clean mono sound and what sounds like a small string section so woodwinds are very prominent. It often sounds like chamber music. Articulation is very sharp indeed. The scherzo of the Pastoral is perhaps even more galumphing than the studio set. The seventh brings the house down. The contemporary comment that Beethoven was 'ripe for the madhouse' rings very true with bipolar Klemperer at the helm. In the finale, after the initial flourishes, you hear him utter a not very suppressed cry of encouragement to his players who respond with the most manic traversal of this music I have ever heard.
The ninth brings some surprises. I have mentioned elsewhere that the adagio molto e cantabile coming in at 15 minutes as against Cluytens at 18 minutes is more suggestive of adagio e molto cantabile and is really exciting, not a word one normally associates with this movement. And when you get to the finale instead of a tenor performing circus tricks you have Wunderlich giving a superb demonstration of WHAT BEETHOVEN MUST ACTUALLY HAVE HAD IN MIND. Wilma Lipp is heavenly. The others are good.
There are a number of performances in this Beethoven cycle to which I would return before any other even before the Karajan DG stereo early 60's one which I have always found to be the most satisfying studio set.
All in all either cycle alone is worth the asking price.
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on 21 February 2017
The Beethoven performances are grand in Klemperer’s magnificent and truculent patrician style. A general comment would be that they are characterised by greater dynamism, detail and authority than the earlier studio recordings, definitely benefitting from the concert atmosphere and event – the generative tension of the occasion.

The performance that may be most controversial is the Seventh – but that is usually with Klemperer’s Beethoven cycles. In my opinion this is a truly magisterial performance, by far the most successful of his recorded performances. Although speeds are more deliberate than is normally the case, especially in the finale, the summing-up of tension and the sense of arrival is profoundly satisfying.

Recorded sound is more than acceptable. A deeply rewarding set!
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on 28 August 2014
Kempe's Brahms is creative and riveting, a real surprise. His orchestra plays very well, sometimes one thinks they are not a Bavarian second rate ensemble but rather something like the Wiener Philarmoniker at their peak. Warmly recommended, especially 1st Symphony, one of the best ever..
As for Klemperer's 1960 live Beethoven, the set is well known and it far better than EMI's official one.
All in all, this box is a real bargain.
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on 8 April 2014
This set is far superior to the EMI set of 1958. Here Klemperer is at the top of his form with a combination of scrupulous attention to detail and a powerful forward drive attained without excessive speed. The performance of Beethoven s 9th is better than any other I have heard with the soloists fully up to the job. This set is probably the best bargain ever.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 November 2014
On this budget 10 CD boxed set, the first six discs contain the Beethoven symphonies and the Overtures to Egmont, Coriolanus and Creatures of Prometheus are played by the Philharmonia Orchestra under Otto Klemperer, 1885-1973, recorded live in May/June 1960. Wilma Lipp [b. 1925], Ursula Boese [b. 1928], Fritz Wunderlich [1930-66], Franz Crass [1928-2012] and the Wiener Singverein der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, chorus master Reinhold Schmidt, join the orchestra in the Choral Symphony.

I grew up with Klemperer's studio performances of the Beethoven symphonies with the soloists in the Choral Symphony being Aase Nordmo Løvberg, 1923-2013, Christa Ludwig, b. 1928, Waldemar Kmentt, b. 1929, Hans Hotter, 1909-2003, and the Philharmonia Chorus. The four soloists in this set cannot quite match this illustrious performance but the live performance in Vienna adds its own particular frisson. The performances are very typical of the style of the mid-1900s, with the flexibility of the Second, Fourth and Eighth Symphonies balanced by the powerful forward drive of the Eroica, Fifth and Seventh Symphonies. Klemperer's studio recording of the Pastoral Symphony has long been my favourite and here the conductor creates a very visual performance of a work that many find an entry point into the composer's grander and more complex symphonies.

The first CD couples the three overtures with the First Symphony. Throughout the cycle, Klemperer tends to adopt relatively faster tempi and one might consider the performances to be that of a man some years younger than his mid-70s, perhaps energised by his enthusiastic audience. There is drive and intensity, but the composer's intentions are not unduly extended or distorted, the dramatic impact coming from the score and the attention to the detail of its orchestration. Given their long history of working together, one hears the orchestra and conductor as one. There is certainly no evidence of the conductor's artistic or physical decline that marred some of his later performances than appeared to succeed through sheer will-power and determination. Klemperer knows this music though a lifetime of study and performance, and it clearly shows.

The four final CDs are devoted to the Brahms symphonies, recorded in 1975-76, and played by Rudolf Kempe, 1910-76, with the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra. Kempe recorded the symphonies with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 1955, 1956, 1959 and 1960. As these performances from the very end of his sadly foreshortened life show, Kempe was a Brahms' conductor of the highest standard whose sensitivity and concern for detail, although never at the expense of shaping the overall architecture of the work, comes through in these lyrical and expansive readings. Each CD contains just one symphony that represents poor value for money excepting the price of the complete set.

The Munich players are stimulated to play at the height of their powers although the Berlin set, on Testament, is marginally preferable for those to whom cost is not the prime consideration as it also contains the Tragic Overture and the Variations on a theme by Haydn, `St Anthony'. The woodwind players are superb but neither the brass nor the strings quite match this level. Whilst each of the symphonies is very convincingly performed, it is perhaps the Fourth that stands as a monument to the artist's powers that, unlike many contemporaries, never came between the composer and the audience but served as a channel through which the former's intentions were revealed.

The ten CDs are presented in individual slipcases and there are no notes. This is disappointing but, overall, these recordings are highly recommended for those wanting both symphonic cycles in performances that have stood the test of time. Klemperer's performances presented here, though not as unremitting as in his late studio recordings, will still not appeal to fans of Beethoven on period instruments.
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on 23 April 2014
don't be put off by the age of the original recordings - they knew what they were doing in those days - quality is superb - by the standards of the day and even by today's higher standards - enjoy listening to masters at work - and play!
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on 21 June 2015
I bougnt this box mainly having read Dr D's reveiw on this page and from long acquintence with Klemperer's earlier recordings on HMV. I commenced by listening to the Eroica and was immediatley struck by the two initial chords, which yo my ear suggested that orchestra had been taken by surprise and were a bit slack. This impression was quickly dismissed witin a very few minutes,and thereafter rythms and textures were strongly distplayed in typical Klemperer style. A quick comparison with Klemperer's earlier Eroica tended to confirm my impression that the live recording has a greater sense of spontinaity and forward momentum. In an age where almost every orcestra all over the world sound the samei it is a pleasure to hear the superb Philharmonia so uniquel characterful, surely the best in the world,at the time!
The remaining movements are equally good,with strongly projected rythms and an appropriate heft of sound, none of your original instrument pedantry here.
The rest of the set remains to be explored at leisure odd but random dipps into other movements suggests that in this issue we have struck hidden gold. One complaint, but a serious one nevertheless, is lack of a booklet or liner note giving recording venue and perhaps the reason the orchestra were in Vienna at the time.
Any one with an intrest Beethoven symphonies or in Klemperer should seek this set out 'with the speed of a thousand gazelles'
Apps for any typos orjuxtaposed words etc ,the grand weans are climbing all over my neck!!1
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 February 2014
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.
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on 9 September 2014
Fast delivery Content not the best of Klemperer or Kempf, would have been better with their dedicated orchestras.
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