Notes and Editorial Reviews
As Paul Kletzki's 1960s Beethoven cycle reaches its end, we are reminded of a time when recording projects such as this were rare and special occasions, when musicians and the public alike approached Beethoven symphonies with a near reverence that seems a little old-fashioned in our post-millenium era. Perhaps it is, but there is a special exalted sense in these recordings that is rarely found today. Foremost, it is clear that Kletzki has an unwavering love for these scores, evident in his continued effort to have us hear everything in them. There's a lot more going on in this music than is usually revealed. The string runs after each statement of the main theme in Symphony No. 7's finale are just one example. In the Eighth's first
movement, Kletzki points up the debt owed to Beethoven by today's jazz and rock musicians: the original funky bass line. He also shows how Beethoven's antiphonal effects in the Ninth's first movement lead right to the manuscripts of Anton Bruckner.
But Kletzki acts as more than just an illuminator. He injects life-giving energy into the music, not just horizontally (though he does employ the same rubato in the Seventh's finale that Leonard Bernstein did in his later Vienna Philharmonic recording), but with a strong sonic foundation that conveys the sense of purpose that makes his interpretations so satisfying. This is true nowhere more than in the Ninth's finale, which is full of grandeur yet without any of today's "authentic" tempos. Kletzki recognizes that the vocal element is just as important, if not more important, than the orchestral. Rolf Kuhne's "O Freunde" rivets our attention and literally sweeps away all that has gone before. Tenor Martin Ritzmann's heroic singing shames most of today's interpreters of the part.
But special mention also must be made of the Czech Philharmonic Chorus, which sings with a fervency that gives truth to Schiller's poem, and despite their massive forces, the singers make every syllable distinctly audible.
Audible too is the marvelous Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, performing with miraculous clarity and robustness here and in the other two symphonies. The sound on these vintage Supraphon recordings is beautifully balanced with plenty of dynamic range, though the huge tuttis in the finale do suffer from some congestion. This release caps a terrific series. Don't miss it.
--Victor Carr, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Rolf Kühne (Bass),
Martin Ritzmann (Tenor),
Ingeborg Wenglor (Soprano),
Annelies Burmeister (Alto)
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,
Prague Philharmonic Chorus
Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria
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