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Sacred Music - Bach, Handel, Beethoven / Klemperer

Release Date: 08/20/2013 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 935402  
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachGeorge Frideric HandelLudwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Franz CrassAgnes GiebelNicolai GeddaDame Janet Baker,   ... 
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia OrchestraBBC ChorusPhilharmonia Chorus,   ... 
Number of Discs: 8 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Klemperer was a pioneer in period instrument performance, after a fashion. In the 1920s he shocked the German music world by performing Bach without vibrato; he also insisted on using relatively small forces in works such as the B minor Mass. Yet as you can hear for yourself at such moments as the conclusion of that work’s Credo, the slow tempos and extreme polyphonic clarity achieve overwhelmingly grand results. But it is grandeur of a particular type: austere, unsentimental, wholly direct and without bombast.

On the non-HIP side, Klemperer had not the slightest interest in ornamentation, which is less of an issue than it seems in Bach whose music is always highly elaborated. In Handel’s Messiah, the results are, well, Bach
Read more like–this is a very serious performance. Even the Hallelujah Chorus comes across as what might best be called “grimly joyful,” if that makes any sense (second clip). But both in the Missa Solemnis and the St. Matthew Passion, Klemperer achieved results that have in many ways never been equalled. Both are reference recordings. About how many “non-specialist” conductors born in the late 19th century can it be said legitimately that they can stake their claim to greatness on recordings of the St. Matthew Passion?

Klemperer always had superb soloists: Agnes Giebel, Janet Baker, Nicolai Gedda, Hermann Prey, Franz Crass, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Peter Pears, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig, Walter Berry, Elisabeth Söderström, and Martti Talvela, among others. The list reads like a “Who’s Who” of great singing in the early to mid 60s. The choral contributions, from the Philharmonia Chorus and the BBC Chorus (in the B minor Mass), are also about as good as it gets. Throughout these recordings there is no question that Klemperer is fully in command, getting exactly the results that he wanted, and the result is a sacred music experience like no other. They are essential.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Mass in B minor, BWV 232 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Franz Crass (Bass), Agnes Giebel (Soprano), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor),
Dame Janet Baker (Mezzo Soprano), Hermann Prey (Baritone)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  BBC Chorus
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1747-49; Leipzig, Germany 
Messiah, HWV 56 by George Frideric Handel
Performer:  Jerome Hines (Bass), Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), Grace Hoffman (Mezzo Soprano),
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Chorus,  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1741; London, England 
Date of Recording: 1965 
Language: English 
Saint Matthew Passion, BWV 244 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Nicolai Gedda (Tenor), Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (Soprano), Peter Pears (Tenor),
John Carol Case (Baritone), Helen Watts (Contralto (Female alto)), Geraint Evans (Baritone),
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau (Baritone), Otakar Kraus (Baritone), Wilfred Brown (Tenor),
Walter Berry (Bass-baritone)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra,  Philharmonia Chorus,  Hampstead Church Boys' Choir
Period: Baroque 
Written: Circa 1727; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1960/1 
Language: German 
Missa solemnis in D major, Op. 123 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Elisabeth Söderström (Soprano), Marga Höffgen (Alto), Waldemar Kmentt (Tenor),
Martti Talvela (Bass)
Conductor:  Otto Klemperer
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Chorus
Period: Classical 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1965 
Venue:  Kingsway Hall, London, England 
Length: 79 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Language: Latin 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 essential for all the right reasons December 24, 2013 By J. Tatnall (West Grove, PA) See All My Reviews "The great musicians of the previous century, not the showmen, who tackled the works of Bach and Handel really had something to say, and they did so with clarity of texture and form. A recent listening of Klemperer's recording of Messiah was not a revelation, but a confirmation of a master musician with something to say about a masterpiece of a previous age. Echt Baroque? no. But on can hear just how much he understands this music, as drama, and how to play it with style." Report Abuse
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