Whenever Klemperer’s name comes up so do adjectives such as “magisterial,” “granitic,” and “sober.” But these only tell part of the story. Klemperer was a superb man of the theater, as his recordings of Fidelio and The Flying Dutchman reveal. Until the late sixties, when old age overcame him, he was noted for his sometimes deliberate tempos in quick movements, but also for his quick speeds in slower ones. The truth is that he detested sentimentality, which isn’t the same thing as sentiment. And so we have here one of the tenderest of all recordings of the Siegfried Idyll–tender because Klemperer uses single strings and gets through the piece in less than 18 minutes. It’s an “Idyll,” and not an “Ordeal.” Wagner would have approved. Read more
Similarly, the Tristan und Isolde Prelude and Liebestod have astonishing urgency and passion; Klemperer’s tempo is actually quicker than Szell’s. Without the standard, droopy “dawn” sequence, Siegfried’s Rhine Journey is one of the most exciting on disc, truly a headlong dash as the mighty river surges into view. It’s tremendous. Of course the “majestic” pieces come off with unaffected grandeur: the Meistersinger Prelude, Rienzi Overture, and the preludes to Lohengrin and Parsifal. The overtures to Tannhäuser and The Flying Dutchman receive some of their best performances on disc, while those other “bleeding chunks” from The Ring–The Ride of the Valkyries, Forest Murmurs, and the Entry of the Gods into Valhalla–are helped by splendid playing from the Philharmonia, and balances that (typically with Klemperer) favor the woodwinds no matter how dense the textures.
The engineering, from 1962/3, has dated. It always sounded a bit congested, particularly in Rienzi, which is clumsily scored anyway, but it certainly doesn’t get in the way of the music-making or hamper full enjoyment. The two discs are also very full, lasting nearly eighty minutes each. You can’t go wrong with this set.
Die Walküre: Ride of the Valkyriesby Richard Wagner Conductor:
Period: Romantic Written: 1856; Germany Date of Recording: 03/10/1960 Venue: Kingsway Hall, London Length: 3 Minutes 4 Secs.
Siegfried Idyllby Richard Wagner Conductor:
Period: Romantic Written: 1870; Germany Date of Recording: 10/25/1961 Venue: Kingsway Hall, London Length: 18 Minutes 0 Secs.
Siegfried: Forest Murmurs [Instrumental]by Richard Wagner Conductor:
Period: Romantic Written: 1871; Germany Date of Recording: 11/13/1961 Venue: Kingsway Hall, London Length: 8 Minutes 38 Secs.
MasterfulJune 29, 2013By R. Jamison (Winchester, VA)See All My Reviews"Idiosyncratic undoubtedly, but still one of the great conductors of the 20th Century. This cd demonstrates his mastery of Wagner, as well as of the Philharmonia."Report Abuse