WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Borodin: Symphony No 2 / Carlos Kleiber, Erich Kleiber


Release Date: 05/10/2005 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 93116   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alexander Borodin
Conductor:  Erich KleiberCarlos Kleiber
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony OrchestraStuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono/Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

A fascinating opportunity to compare and contrast father and son.

Keen collectors may have acquired these off-air recordings in previous, more or less illicit incarnations but, in placing them back to back, Hänssler’s authorised release allows us to make instructive comparison between Kleiber father and son. (Perhaps Universal could do something similar with the pair’s celebrated accounts of Beethoven’s Fifth.)

It’s obvious here that Carlos has lifted key interpretative features from his father’s marked-up score, and, in all probability, the recording too. Even so, his is the more remarkable of the two performances. In Erich’s day Borodin’s Second Symphony was a popular favourite in the West and
Read more something of an archetype for Russian-Soviet composers. Twenty-five years on it had already begun to lose out to the grander, denser pieces influenced by it, not least Prokofiev’s Fifth. These days it is rarely programmed. Carlos, as usual when he could be persuaded to conduct, takes the music seriously, imparting what in my experience is a unique level of intensity to the argument, without necessarily moulding melodic lines with what we think of as idiomatic ‘Russian’ warmth.

In the first movement, both Kleibers pointedly eschew the grandiose rhetoric and agogic pauses favoured by Svetlanov; Carlos has the edge in the development, hurtling forward with astonishing power. Surprisingly, perhaps, he makes more of the second movement, too, even relaxing a little for the trio’s local colour where Erich stiffens up. Neither Andante can boast a truly Russian-sounding horn but Carlos comes closer. He’s also a notch faster than Erich and at times I felt he wanted to make us aware of Borodin’s changes of metre at the expense of narrative flow. Did the reading have time to settle? Probably not. And yet, even if the Stuttgart players are not always quite on top of his demands, they struggle manfully with his no doubt fanatical insistence on crisp and resilient rhythms at high speed. When everything comes together, as it does in the finale’s dash for the finishing line, the results are sensational.

I should mention that the SWR studio relay has come up reasonably well whereas the 1947 NBC broadcast (with audience) is inevitably rather dry and limited, in the Toscanini manner. Hänssler’s booklet-notes muse on the psychology of the Kleiber phenomenon in a style likely to perplex Anglo-Saxon sceptics. Enthusiasts should not hesitate.

-- David Gutman, Gramophone [6/2005]
Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 2 in B minor by Alexander Borodin
Conductor:  Erich Kleiber
Orchestra/Ensemble:  NBC Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869-1876; Russia 
Date of Recording: December 20, 1947 
2. Symphony no 2 in B minor by Alexander Borodin
Conductor:  Carlos Kleiber
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1869-1876; Russia 
Date of Recording: 1972 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 2 in B minor: I. Allegro
Symphony No. 2 in B minor: II. Scherzo: Prestissimo. Trio: Allegretto
Symphony No. 2 in B minor: III. Andante
Symphony No. 2 in B minor: IV. Finale: allegro
Symphony No. 2 in B minor: I. Allegro
Symphony No. 2 in B minor: II. Scherzo: Pretissimo. Trio: Allegretto
Symphony No. 2 in B minor: III. Andante
Symphony No. 2 in B minor: IV. Finale: Allegro

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title
Review This Title Share on Facebook