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The Cologne Years Vol 1 / Otto Klemperer


Release Date: 11/15/2005 
Label:  Andante   Catalog #: 2130   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenJohannes BrahmsPaul Hindemith
Performer:  Géza Anda
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 2 Hours 30 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews





Recorded in concert in 1954 (no specific date is provided), this is one of the most commanding releases of live Klemperer to have appeared. Both Beethoven symphonies provide significant glosses on the conductor?s studio accounts. As I have noted before in these pages, it is likely that the exceptionally broad tempos that Klemperer generally favored in his stereo traversal of the nine symphonies were rooted (at least partly) in palsy that limited his arm movements. As collectors may well be aware, his earlier monaural ?Eroica? of 1955 had greater thrust than his stereo re-make of five years later. And this concert performance is marginally tauter still. The same Read more cumulative power of the conductor?s rhythmic solidity remains, but with an energy absent from the later efforts that makes this performance the most compelling of all. Moreover, the finale also gains from an exceptional textural clarity of its fugal passages. A similar distinction separates this concert performance of the Fourth Symphony from Klemperer?s stereo account of 1960. Certainly, the more incisive thrust of this 1954 reading lends the explosive eruptions of the first movement even greater power than later. With exposition repeats observed in outer movements, this No. 4 is as good as it gets for those who favor a relatively broad, rhythmically taut account. The sound for both symphonies, in its presence, detail, and timbral accuracy, is virtually state-of-the-art for 1954, which is more than can be said for many broadcast tapes of the period.


So, too, in the remaining works, of which the Brahms concerto provides the biggest surprise, mainly because I had heard Klemperer in only one other account of the score, a 1960 live performance with Ashkenazy (in an out-of-print Hunt CD) that was stultifying in its absurd expansiveness. As everything there moved even more slowly than in the uncommonly broad statement the pianist recorded with Haitink, I attributed the tempos to Klemperer?s influence. But what a difference in this magnificent account of 1954! Doubtless, timings are often a dangerous yardstick to apply in forming critical judgments. But try this for a barometer indicating the significant difference between the two accounts: the first movement in 1960 lasts 19:42, in 1954, 16:17?the latter virtually identical to the time taken by Horowitz and Toscanini. This similarity pertains throughout the remaining three movements. Beyond question, Anda and Klemperer give a performance that ranks with the second Serkin/Ormandy and Gilels/Reiner versions as one of the stunning accounts of the work. What sets it apart from them and the Toscanini/Horowitz reading is Anda?s few technical slips, something that can happen in any live presentation. Certainly, one could have some fun playing the work?s opening tutti and asking informed guests to identify the conductor. No one, I suspect, would name Klemperer, Never having heard the conductor?s studio version of the Hindemith and lacking sufficient knowledge of other accounts, I hesitate to judge this one. Nonetheless given the documentary and musical worth of this set, anything short of an unqualified recommendation would be an injustice. It is tagged ?Volume I? in a series titled ?Klemperer: the Cologne Years.? By all means, Andante, bring on some more.


FANFARE: Mortimer H. Frank
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 4 in B flat major, Op. 60 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1954 
2. Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 55 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1954 
3. Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 83 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Géza Anda (Piano)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1881; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1954 
4. Nobilissima Visione by Paul Hindemith
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 1954 

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