Notes and Editorial Reviews
A disc to treasure as a reminder of just how great a conductor Klemperer was in these works in his prime.
This is the fourth disc of IDIS’s series of Klemperer’s Beethoven Vienna concerts that I have reviewed. It has the same characteristics as earlier issues – variable but generally poor recording; I do not know to what extent Danilo Profumo’s re-mastering has improved the original tapes or how it compares with other issues of this material. There’s minimal presentation and the performances are very different from those to which we are accustomed today. However their virtues greatly outweigh these serious defects.
Klemperer’s studio recordings are well known. Highly rated in their day they now
occupy a place of honour but are perhaps more respected than loved. He was very much a conductor who preferred live performance. Recordings of such performances, in particular those issued by Testament, have revealed a much more dynamic and exciting approach. It is not that the generally slower than usual speeds found on his studio recordings were abandoned; rather that there is additional drive and conviction. Klemperer’s usual supreme virtues of clarity of texture and structure are retained. In Symphony No. 8, for instance, the first movement is taken at what is clearly three in a bar rather than the virtual one in a bar normally favoured by conductors who now adopt the composer’s metronome marking of dotted minim equals 69. There is nonetheless no feeling of the movement lumbering. This is achieved by much clearer articulation than is usually possible at the faster speed. The repeated quavers in cellos and basses soon after the start are audible and they help to push the music forward. Similarly the slower pace enables the later
sforzandi on second and third beats to make much more impact. The internal balance is always carefully adjusted to ensure that the musical argument is never allowed to flag. The first movement repeat is made in No. 8 but not in No. 7 – common decisions at the time of these performances.
As I have said in reviewing earlier issues in this series, these are very much discs for the collector with other versions already; preferably more recent and better recorded versions. The recording quality can be wearing if listened to at length and there are several oddities of balance that may well be due more to microphone placement than to the conductor’s whim. Nevertheless this remains a disc to treasure as a reminder of just how great a conductor Klemperer was in these works in his prime.
-- John Sheppard, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 06/02/1960
Length: 38 Minutes 12 Secs.
Symphony no 8 in F major, Op. 93 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Written: 1812; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 06/04/1960
Length: 26 Minutes 42 Secs.
Egmont, Op. 84: Overture by Ludwig van Beethoven
Written: 1810; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 05/31/1960
Length: 9 Minutes 59 Secs.
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