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Bruckner: Symphony No 7 / Klemperer, Vienna Symphoniker

Klemperer / Vso
Release Date: 02/08/2011 
Label:  Testament   Catalog #: 1459   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BRUCKNER Symphony No. 7 (Nowak edition) • Otto Klemperer, cond; Vienna SO • TESTAMENT SBT 1459, mono (60:24) Live: Vienna 2/26/1958

"Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony was the composer’s work that Otto Klemperer loved the most. Klemperer first conducted the Seventh in 1921, which was the 25th anniversary of Bruckner’s death, and he went on to perform the work dozens of times in a wide variety of locations. Mike Ashman’s essay in Testament’s CD booklet describes the hostility of English music critics after Klemperer performed the Seventh in 1931: “‘London endures a great deal from these continental reputations,’ declared William McNaught in The Musical Times . ‘That Read more of Bruckner, one suspects, is kept alive chiefly by conductors who, having explored all the ordinary avenues towards notoriety, seek a fresh one by showing their intimacy with 60-minute works that no one cares about.’ The Observer called, unfortunately, for the symphony to be burned, while Neville Cardus was patronizing about Bruckner’s ‘local appeal’ and confident that ‘he has not a penn’orth of Elgar’s technical skill.’”

This previously unpublished live 1958 Seventh from Vienna’s Musikverein was part of a series there titled The Great Symphonies (the concert began with another Klemperer favorite, Mozart’s Symphony No. 29, but regrettably the latter’s tape has been lost). My review headnote here reflects audience applause both fore and aft (the actual movement timings: 18:16 / 19:45 / 9:10 / 12:12 = 59:23); the timing in Klemperer’s live 1956 Bavarian Radio mono account ( Fanfare 32:4) is nearly identical (17: 55 / 19:21 / 9:08 / 12:41 = 59:05). Per my review of that Medici release: “Klemperer achieves much to admire in the first two movements, with his typically clear textures abetted by some lovely playing by the Bavarian strings. But the Scherzo is lacking in charm and tends to plod, while the finale is cheerlessly sober.” Here in Vienna, the more sharply inflected Scherzo is actually quite charming, with nice lilt in the Trio, and the finale benefits from a more flexible pacing and some witty rubato. The microphone placement is quite close, which creates an intimate and sonically detailed perspective in excellent mono sound. All in all, this is the most thoroughly enjoyable live Seventh I’ve heard from Klemperer and I’m very glad to have it. However, I would be remiss in not pointing out that this is a very rough-and-ready sort of Bruckner; much of the playing is on the scrappy side, and quite a few minor bloopers and some blue intonation are experienced along the way. But when compared to today’s world, where so many ensembles play flawlessly yet seem to have little or nothing to express, it feels like a breath of fresh air to hear Klemperer and the Vienna Symphony saunter their rustic way through the Seventh with such a sincere affection for Bruckner’s music."

FANFARE: Jeffrey J. Lipscomb
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 7 in E major, WAB 107 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881-1883; Vienna, Austria 

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