WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Mozart: Operas / Otto Klemperer [11-CD Set]

Mozart / Klemperer,Otto
Release Date: 03/26/2013 
Label:  Emi Classics   Catalog #: 43782   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Margaret PriceYvonne MintonSir Geraint EvansLuigi Alva,   ... 
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis ChoirNew Philharmonia OrchestraNew Philharmonia Chorus,   ... 
Number of Discs: 11 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Low Stock: Currently 3 or fewer in stock. Usually ships in 24 hours, unless stock becomes depleted.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Klemperer took his Mozart very, very seriously. This works wonderfully well in The Magic Flute, a reference recording happily without all that wretched, stupid dialogue. The three Da Ponte operas are another story, but they are not nearly as stodgy as you might think, if by that we mean a drearily realized conception of what ought to have been sprightly and light. Klemperer’s heavily symphonic, massive approach is a legitimate and fully realized conception of the music, even if it may seem out of date by modern standards. The truth is that the performances are excellent, with superb singers and Klemperer at or near top form throughout. Either you like it, or you don’t, but never say he didn’t know what he wanted.

The overture
Read more to Così fan tutte lets you know what to expect. Grand gestures are very grand, but the allegro is really delicious, with those typically forward wind balances a joy (first sound clip). Similarly, the conclusion of Don Giovanni, arguably the opera best suited to Klemperer’s epic approach, is both fleet and big-boned (second sound clip). Slow arias can be very slow. “Porgi amor” lasts four minutes, as compared to Gardiner’s three, but the truth is that this is only about 15-20 seconds slower than conventional tempos at the time (compare Giulini, or Fricsay). And when you have a great Strauss soprano like Elisabeth Söderström as the Countess, you may well want it to last even longer.

Indeed, the entire cast is pretty terrific: Reri Grist as Susanna, Geraint Evans as Figaro, Gabriel Bacquier as the Count, and Teresa Berganza as Cherubino. In Don Giovanni we have Nicolai Ghiaurov (Don G), Claire Watson (Donna Anna), Christa Ludwig (Donna Elvira–a daring bit of casting), Nicolai Gedda (Don Ottavio), and Walter Berry (Leporello). Così features Margaret Price, Yvonne Minton, Luigi Alva, Evans again, Lucia Popp, and Hans Sotin, while the cast of The Magic Flute (Gedda, Janowitz, Berry, Popp, and Frick) is famous for being the best that could have been assembled at the time–Elisabeth Schwarzkopf even turns up as the First Lady, quite a bit of luxury casting.

Granted, the recitatives in the Italian operas don’t “sparkle,” but then at home I feel no particular need to listen to many of them anyway. I understand that this set will appeal primarily to those interested in Klemperer–for all the great singing these are very much his performances–but they also represent a perfectly legitimate view of these works, and if you know your Mozart and aren’t wedded to any single approach, there’s plenty to savor in these well-recorded and dramatically trenchant versions.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Read less

Works on This Recording

Cosě fan tutte, K 588 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Margaret Price (Soprano), Yvonne Minton (Mezzo Soprano), Sir Geraint Evans (Baritone),
Luigi Alva (Tenor), Lucia Popp (Soprano), Hans Sotin (Bass)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1790; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1971 
Language: Italian 
Don Giovanni, K 527 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Walter Berry (Bass Baritone), Mirella Freni (Soprano), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor),
Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano), Claire Watson (Soprano), Nicolai Ghiaurov (Bass),
Paolo Montarsolo (Bass), Franz Crass (Bass)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Prague 
Date of Recording: 1966 
Length: 180 Minutes 0 Secs. 
Language: Italian 
Le nozze di Figaro, K 492 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Margaret Price (Soprano), Clifford Grant (Bass), Willi Brokmeier (Tenor),
Werner Hollweg (Tenor), Michael Langdon (Bass), Annelies Burmeister (Mezzo Soprano),
Gabriel Bacquier (Baritone), Teresa Berganza (Mezzo Soprano), Elisabeth Söderström (Soprano),
Reri Grist (Soprano), Sir Geraint Evans (Baritone), Teresa Cahill (Soprano),
Dame Kiri Te Kanawa (Soprano)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  John Alldis Choir,  New Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1786; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1970 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Language: Italian 
Die Zauberflöte, K 620 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Ruth-Margret Pütz (Soprano), Lucia Popp (Soprano), Christa Ludwig (Mezzo soprano),
Anna Reynolds (Mezzo soprano), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Karl Liebl (Tenor),
Gundula Janowitz (Soprano), Marga Höffgen (Contralto (Female alto)), Agnes Giebel (Soprano),
Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), Gottlob Frick (Bass), Franz Crass (Bass),
Walter Berry (Baritone), Gerhard Unger (Tenor), Josephine Veasey (Mezzo soprano)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1791; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1964 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 AMAZING RECORDINGS October 21, 2016 By Bernard A J. (Kansas City, MO) See All My Reviews "The crown jewel of this cd set is Die Zauberflote. It is the best recorded and best cast of the four operas that make up this set. The reason I bought the whole set was that I was looking for a Die Zauberflote without the dialog. I hate listening to to this opera with the spoken dialogue. I came across and remembered this opera, listened to it on Apple Music and was blown away. It wasn't that much cost to get the da Ponte operas also for the price. Klemperer has always been criticized for his slow - sometimes boring - recordings of anything. Listening to the overture of this opera, it starts out almost grave, and you wonder. Stick with it for a minute as it all changes. The recordings and cast for Don Giovanni are also excellent. The Cosi fan tutte is an excellent cast with the exception of Hans Sotin who was beyond his prime at this point in his career. The weakest link in the recordings is Le Nozze di Figaro. The cast is superb, but there are points in the recording where the strain and breakup of some singers can be painful fortunately at very brief times. It is unfortunate that the 1991 remastering did not remove this. Despite this small drawback, the set as a whole deserves a five star. Adding to Klemperer's star power, the John Alldis Choir and the old Philharmonia Orchestra as well as the New Philharmonia Orchestra were at their prime in those days. The recordings are all in stereo having been recorded between 1964 and 1972 with the remastering done in 1991. These are old fashioned, out of style you may say. Even myself, the best of the da Ponte operas are the new period performance are ones by Rene Jacobs and his group. They have not recorded Die Zauberflote. You would need to turn to William Christie's recording for a period performance to find my favorite. The Klemperer is a delight though from a different time and age." Report Abuse
 An eye opener to a real man of the theatre May 1, 2013 By J. Tatnall (West Grove, PA) See All My Reviews "With so many fine Mozart opera collections available, why dredge up these relics from a bygone age and style? Thankfully EMI has seen fit to celebrate Dr. Klemperer and his intrepid casts. Not universally slow or heavy, and never muddy, we are treated to real comedy rather than slapstick and mugging. The voices are universally excellent and are allowed to really sing. No stage whispering, no barking, no nasal disguises, just really good singing and phrasing. I like Mozart performed many ways. Kleiber and Guilini, Mackerras, Levine, and Jacobs to name a few top choices. Now I'm adding Klemperer to that list. The music and drama flow from beginning to end naturally and organically. At no point do I ever find the momentum wanting or the pace lagging. This set is an eye opener to a real man of the theatre!" Report Abuse
Review This Title