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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
The playing here just oozes character throughout and makes the competition seem bland. It’s as if music making and music itself really mattered.
A famous Kingsway Hall recording of the Bruckner Sixth Symphony, now 40 years old, here finds itself paired with half of an excellent LP of German overtures made by Klemperer and the Philharmonia with Walter Legge at the same location four years earlier. Hiss levels are these days relatively high from the older tapes, but the sound is full and warm, and the overtures have never sounded better. Wagner’s extended reworking of the Gluck overture has its own interest, and Klemperer and the players project the music with maximum gravitas, on the largest expressive scale. Not a
single routine bar is to be heard. Hänsel und Gretel are transported from a late-September 1960, in foggy London town, to an idealized world of Klemperer’s own making. The result sounds like an urgent live performance of a straight orchestral masterpiece, with no trace of kitsch. Klemperer and the Philharmonia somehow convey enormous affection without a shred of sentimentality.
That critical cliché also holds good for this familiar Bruckner performance with the re-formed New Philharmonia. In the accompanying notes, Richard Osborne once more lauds the undeniable virtues of straightforwardness in Klemperer’s approach, but heard afresh, the playing here just oozes character all through, and makes the competition seem bland. It’s as if music making and music itself really mattered.
The great conductor doesn’t try to fabricate a mass-rally ending for this work, which marked a return to a human compositional scale for the composer after the monumental Fifth, a work designed to overwhelm and to bring us close to heaven’s gate. Listen to Klemperer and the NPO in the Scherzo and Trio, to hear how this music can be related at the same time to an earlier species of German Romanticism, to the nationalist symphonies of the day, and to a future that includes Mahler, not least in the use of the same thematic material at different speeds in adjacent movements. Klemperer clearly relishes the slightly crazed aspects of the last movement, and it’s hard to resist being swept along.
These transfers scrape up more of the original sound than before, and the strings and winds sound fine. The brass, though impressively powerful, can now sound just a little harsh if we bear in mind smoother, more expansive digital successors. But if you don’t have a recording of the symphony, this is still the one to beat.
-- Paul Ingram, FANFARE [3/2004]
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 6 in A major, WAB 106 by Anton Bruckner
New Philharmonia Orchestra
Written: 1879-1881; Vienna, Austria
Iphigénie en Aulide: Overture by Christoph W. Gluck
Written: 1772-1774; Vienna, Austria
Notes: Arranged: Richard Wagner (1846-47)
Hänsel und Gretel: Overture by Engelbert Humperdinck
Written: 1893; Germany
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
A special experience June 4, 2014
By Albert Sillverstein (Pawtucket, RI) See All My Reviews
"This recording truly deserves a special place in the list of classic recordings. Klemperer's performance of the Bruckner 6th Symphony is a marvel of balance, sonority and insight. It goes far in making this underplayed masterwork a more frequent joy. His tempi and pauses around phrases make the grand, harmonic brass chords vibrate with lustrous life. But what really makes this CD special is the inclusion of the Wagner arrangement of the Gluck overture. Here, words fail me. I just listen, again and again, to this rapturous work which I had never heard before and am grateful I can listen to now."
Textural clarity December 3, 2011
By Martin Tousignant See All My Reviews
"Arkiv Music's lack of recommendation disturbed me at first, but I came to understand why this cannot be a central recommendation. Klemperer largely ignores Bruckner's tempo markings, yet he compensates by changing the textural and rhythmic feel. The very deliberate opening measures show great precision and an unforced majesty, then the second subject becomes very relaxed at nearly the same tempo. The same attention to detail continues throughout the movement, and indeed the entire symphony. Rough-hewn by today's standards, this sounds like a real performance. Even though late Klemperer was not very precise, the Philharmonia players maintain a fine sense of ensemble, and more importantly, a sense that the music itself matters."