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Otto Klemperer, Wiener Philharmoniker: Live Broadcast Performances [Box Set]
Eberhard Wächter, Recorded Sound, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Otto Klemperer, Wiener Philharmoniker: Live Broadcast Performances [Box Set]
Genres: Special Interest, Classical


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Live Klemperer Treasure from 1968
T. Beers | Arlington, Virginia United States | 06/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This extraordinary set of live Klemperer performances should be in the collection of everyone who cares about Klemperer and his marvelous style of music making. Massive and often slow but always vital and alive, they will not appeal to everyone. But it is astonishing how these CDs bring into sharp focus Klemperer's real magnetism on the podium. As good as his EMI recordings are, they are so very much the product of the recording studio one can be forgiven for wondering whether they represent what Klemperer was in fact capable of achieving in live performance, particularly near the end of his career when his various physical disabilities became almost overwhelming impediments to performance. Somehow, almost miraculously, Klemperer put it all together for a few weeks in the late Spring of 1968 in Vienna to produce truly incandescent performances. Not note perfect by any means, this is music making nevertheless for the ages. I suppose the Mahler 9th comes closest to failure as it offers some of the most ragged playing in the set. (According to the excellent liner notes, some of that can be attributed to Klemperer but more to the orchestra's unfamiliarity with Mahler's last great symphony and even downright hostility to Mahler's music in general.) But in the end that raggedness doesn't matter at all. Klemperer's trademark qualities as conductor are very much present in the Mahler as in all these performances: clarity of polyphonic texture; structural integrity; overall rhythmic coherence (even if ensembles are a bit 'shaky' at times). I was particularly moved by the performances of Bach and Mozart -- the 'Jupiter" symphony is positively incandescent -- as well as by the Bruckner Fifth which is, hands down, the greatest performance of that symphony I have ever heard, live or on record. But all these performances are well worth hearing again and again in spite of their foibles. All performances from the 1968 series are in good quality stereo sound; the single mono recording, a very decent-sounding performance of the Brahms German Requiem, is taken from a Klemperer concert in Vienna about ten years earlier. I don't recommend this set to the 'note perfect' crowd or to anyone who has a fixed idea about what is the "best" recording of the Beethoven Fifth or Mahler Ninth. But if you are prepared to hear the 'thoughts' of an old man who has struggled with this music all his life, for whom this music meant more than anything else on earth and for which he was willing to push himself past pain and infirmity for one last encounter, then I think you will be moved and enriched by this priceless set."
An expensive connoisseur's treat, but beautiful
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 02/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Otto Klemperer had his say in almost all of these pieces through studio recordings for EMI, so live readings from Vienna are mostly for serious collectors. Testament keeps its prices up, knowing that a limited audience will be ready to pay top dollar for unique material. Mr. Beers' review says what needs to be said -- there's an aura of the magical around an aging giant, unable to stand, restricted in arm motion, weighed down by ill health and near-death disasters (Klmeperer almost died when he set his bed on fire smoking cigarettes). Despite all those deficits, the Vienna Phil. reaches deep into its soul for the 83-year-old Klemp. Every moment speaks of a waning epoch in Vienna when the conductor and probably quite a few musicians could remember Mahler himself. They also played often for Kleiber, Knapperstsbusch, Furtwangler and Walter, whose spirits can be vividly felt.

Of that illustrious group, Klemperer was one of the few survivors by 1968, and what we get from him is relaxed, knowing, musically invincible performances. The Wagner and Strauss disc is magisterial. The reading of Siegfried Idyll alone (done in its reduced chamber version) is worth the price of the whole set -- it is a miracle of feeling and poise, transcending any previous recording I've ever heard.

Klemperer is magnificent -- spirited and robust -- in Brahms's German Requiem, which is the only item from an earlier broadcast -- clear mono from 1958. But he wasn't entirely able to hold together the massive structure of either the Mahler Ninth (more generalized than his famed studio recording for EMI) or the Bruckner Fifth (which, to be fair, elicited raves at the time). Both readings flag at times. Elsewhere the pacing feels too slow but rarely, and there are moments, like the finale of the Mozart Jupiter, when tension is lost. But listen to the pungent Viennese winds in the Mozart serenade and the unique charm of these concerts is unmissable. The coriolan Over. receives a reading only Furtwangler surpassed, and perhaps not even he. If you love the great Austro-German tradition and don't mind paying quite a lot for concert CDs, this box set is one of the best."
Excellent compilation!
Ryan Kouroukis | Toronto, Ontario Canada | 02/22/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is definetly a rare set. For Klemp afectionados mostly! The stereo sound on these live recordings are of highest quality!

Klemperer conducts many major compositions from the great composers with stern flexible authority. The Vienna Philharmonic stands up to Klemp with ease of greatness! What a sound!

(But, I would say that the worth of the set is for the Siegfried Idyll alone! Those Vienna strings and those Vienna woodwinds...just thinking about it makes me melt!)"