Dated Sound, Unexceptional Performances
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 01/25/2006
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This 2CD set is of several live performances with Otto Klemperer conducting the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra (now known as the West German Radio Symphony [WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln]). The masters are taken from the archives of the radio system and are in mono. Frankly, the sound is quite dated, even for the time (1954), with a good deal of glassy treble and congested middle range. It also tends to be a bit bass-shy. The best sound is for the Beethoven Fourth, and that is also the most appealing performance.
As for the Brahms Second Piano Concerto, there is little here to make one want to hear it more than once. The piano soloist, Géza Anda, gives a rather heavy performance, not so objectionable in the huge weighty first movement but bothersome in the following three movements. On CD 2 we are given a nice performance of the 'Eroica' but the sound is certainly poorer than a studio recording Klemperer made for Angel (as the label was called back then in the US) a few years later in stereo. Hindemith's 'Nobilissima Visione' is given, frankly, a rather clunky rendition (and some sour brass chords) and not worth much consideration.
So, even though these performances are by Klemperer and a fine orchestra, they are not really terribly attractive.
Scintillating 'Live' Klemperer
J. Grant | North Carolina, USA | 03/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To me, these are the finest performances Klemperer gives of these works (*I'm not familiar with any other recordings of the Hindemith, so I really can't comment on it*). Not even the great 1955 Eroica has the taut energy of this live performance from a year earlier. The finale is a spectacle to behold. The exposition repeats are present in the outer movements of the 4th, which features a highly rhythmical and exciting first movement. The Brahms 2nd is quite reminiscent of the wonderful Gilels/Reiner account from 1958. Geza Anda plays superbly in a virtually error free performance. Andante's sound is very good, especially considering these recordings were taken from broadcast tapes."