New Klemperer releases on EMI

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RE: New Klemperer releases on EMI

Very impressive and eloquent your post, hewett_dick. While I could agree with the general thrust of your view on Klemperer, allow me some observations:

- Klemperer's Bach has definitely "integrity", but still it sounds old, heavy, almost dragging. If he considered that Bach's music dictates this kind of performance even of the Mass in b minor, reality proved him wrong. There are plenty of very beautiful, more versatile, lean and authentic performances at least in the discography, showing exactly the various aspects of this great work. I don't think either that performances "historcally correct" with the authority of a Leonhardt or Harnoncourt or even Kujiken and Herreweghe lack "integrity" or characterised by pedantry. They are extremely good , musically superb and historically correct performances.

- "Pragmatic" and "magisterial" can fit in some works, but when applied to any possible work, it looks at least "inflexible", stern and rigid. The "organic whole" cannot work without the appropriate respect of its "individual parts".

- Mozart and Mendelssohn require this sort of "elegance" called refinement. Klemperer sounds so "heavy", being "magisterial" (for his pragmatism I have my doubts) all the way, that the music of such meticulously refined composers may look so out of its context and nature. This is a Klemperer's Mozart. Take it or leave it. Bohm was less imposing and, definitely, more respectful of Mozart's music. Karajan was strong and heavy, but he kept a sort of enough refinement. Bernstein too, while Marriner, Harnoncourt and others went as close as possible to the Mozartian sense.

-As for his Mahler, despite the "authenticity" (how authentic a composer's student/assistant might be) and "modernity" (one statement about Stockhausen is enough) cards, I still find a certain number of his performances too rigid, strict and lacking any sort of flexibility. Of course, it is magisterial, imposing, but Mahler's music is such a colourful and multifold thing. Walter was so different, despite his apprentice years with the composer. So...

Having said that, I can never try to imply that Klemperer was a lesser conductor. He was great for what he was (in his own merit). I am not that thrilled with his performances. At least, not always.

Parla

RE: New Klemperer releases on EMI

"but still it sounds old,heavy, almost dragging"

Should you not add to the above sentence "in my opinion"or "my view" or "How I hear it". I grant you it is a strong argument that many have used against Klemperer over the years.As written by you it is a fact,written in stone,no argument.Sorry I don't agree with that.
With great composers of the like of Bach and Mozart there is more then one way to skin a cat.For example, I have a strong preference for Mozart's symphonies conducted by Klemperer over the fleeter more politically correct Marriner,who I admire but find in this case boring.Mozart would not have expected his symphonies to have been performed as by Klemperer,but I think he would have been quite chuffed really.He knew a great artist when he heard one.

It was interesting to read a review of the Mozart symphonies with Klemperer conducting the Philharmonia in the 1975 Penguin Guide.I quote - "Here was a Mozartian,monumentally characterful,who inevitably divides listeners sharply,and those who respond to his brand of Mozart are likely to respond very deeply indeed".

RE: New Klemperer releases on EMI

History Man, from what I have seen in the posts on this thread, none so far claimed that the old chap did not sound "old, heavy, almost dragging" or that he sounds elegant, refined, versatile, flexible. Those who defend him to the end claim other features of his greatness (magisterial, pragmatic, his personal perception of the music and some more). I also said that, despite the odd characteristics of his Mozart, for example, one has to "take it or leave it". (Actually, I took some of his Mozart, Bach, Mendelssohn, Schumann etc.)

The fact of the matter is that Klemperer did not smile that much and his performances cannot hide that. They are too serious, stern, rigid, ponderous, magisterial and some more. Mozart, Bach, Mendelssohn, even Schumann are not only that. Of course, for a Missa Solemnis, Ein Deutsches Requiem or Der Fliegende Hollander and some more solemn works, his style works perfectly fine.

In sum, a great conductor but not for all seasons.

Parla

RE: New Klemperer releases on EMI

Klemperer "old, heavy, almost dragging" - never Parla!

A germanic sense of humour heard at its best in great German composers like Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, Mozart, Schumann, Mendelsson, all of whom benefit from his "magisterial, pragmatic and personal perception of the music". Remember the conductor's response to Walter Legge, when he had the temerity to suggest that Klemperer's 'Peasants; Merrymaking' was rather slow; "You'll get used to it". Many (but obviously not all) of us have! 

Frivolity aside, I do agree with Hewett-Dick, that both Mozart's and Mendelssohn's music are much weakened by excessive 'elegance'. Klemperer's "Midsummer Night's Dream" does not sound too heavy to me, and what might Klemperer have made of "Elijah'? As for Mozart, well Klemperer seems to me much closer to Bohm and Bernstein than to any of the more 'frivolous' or 'elegant' conductors, much to Mozart's benefit. 

As for his Bach, well that was contentious even before HIP (i.e. late 20th century style) performances coloured many people's opinions of Bach in ways unimaginable to most of Klemperer's contemporaries, but it is to his credit that he began to understand some aspects late in his life.

Of course, all of this is my opinion. What is elegant, what is fussy? What is magisterial, what is pompous? Perhaps it is a sign of the greatness of musicians like Klemperer, Furtwangler, Toscanini, Karajan, Bohm, Bernstein, Walter, that they evoke such strong opinions. 

Chris



Chris A.Gnostic

RE: New Klemperer releases on EMI

"A germanic sense of humour"? (The sort of humour, where none smiles). If there might be such a thing, then, one may find some sort of explanation for Klemperer's "magisterial, pragmatic and personal perception of the music".

The rather notorious reply "you'll get used to it" demonstrates some kind of arrogance, but not at all unusual among artists with strong convictions.

I didn't talk about "excessive 'elegance'", but rather of refinement, which I doubt someone can find in Klemperer's ponderous conducting (in works full of obvious humour, fun and exhilarating music). At least Bohm and much more Bernstein could provide either the finesse or the happy and exciting side of composers such as Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schumann etc.

Parla

RE: New Klemperer releases on EMI

OK Parla, it was only intended as a lightly (but perhaps a little germanic) humorous response: i.e. a germanic sense of humour might be appropriate for a few germanic composers (such as the ones I mentioned)!  I greatly admire Bohm's Mozart (even in the early Mozart symphonies, which really are too heavy), but have to admit I've never heard him conducting Mendelsson or Schumann. Bernstein I found marvellous in Schumann, and, when at his best glorious in Mozart (Symphonies 38, 41, Mass in C minor). I saw him at the Proms in London conducting the VPO in a superb, exhilarating, never-to-be-forgotten Mahler 5, preceded by the most soporific account of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto I can remember.

There's plenty of room for all of them - and more recently I'd add Harnoncourt (but he's another 'serious' one!).

Best wishes!

Chris

 

Chris A.Gnostic

New Klemperer releases on EMI

c hris johnson wrote:

Of course, all of this is my opinion...... 

What a pity this isn't an attitude shared by all posters

c hris johnson wrote:

I saw him at the Proms in London conducting the VPO in a superb, exhilarating, never-to-be-forgotten Mahler 5, preceded by the most soporific account of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto I can remember.

I was at that Prom Chris, and agree that the Mozart was achingly dull, a difficult achievement given the music. The Mahler was superb, however. I distinctly remember the final pause in the first movement seemed to go on for ever.

JKH

RE: New Klemperer releases on EMI

Just some remarks about Klemperer's Mozart and Mendelssohn:

Whoever finds his Mozart slow, dragging and pompous should listen to his recording of the "little" g-minor symphony KV 183 recorded in 1956 with the Philharmonia Orchestra for Emi-Columbia. If someone could name me any other recording, which is more violent and less dragging, I was grateful. There are also recordings of Mozart KV 183, 201 and 504 with the RIAS Symphony Orchestra (made in the studio) from 1950 to be found in a marvellous 5 disc collection of all Klemperer reordings for RIAS (Berlin radio) on Audite 21.408. Even if the orchestra is not in the Philharmonia class, I would never  give it away  for any other recording of the symphonies with the exception of the above mentioned  Philharmonia KV 183. Boulez has told the story of a perfomance of KV 550 in London during the early sixties which he remembered being extremely quick and violent (unfortunatley there seems to be no trace of any recording from this performance).

Mendelssohn: Music for Summernight's Dream - any other recording besides Klemperer showing so much drama? It's music for a drama, isn't it. Which other  "Hebrides" ouverture tells you  that it's an island in the North Atlantic and not any place on the mediteranian coast? Even if Wagner denied it out of mean reasons, he owed so much to Mendelssohn - especially in the Holländer, and Klemperer shows the strong link between both composers in his unsurpassed recording of the opera. His preludes for Lohengrin and Tristan have an almost Mendelssohnian transparency. 

You may as well hear the Mendelssohn roots of Mahler in Klemperer's live recordings of the 4th Symphony with the RIAS (also in the Audite box) from 1956 (there are also recordings with the Cologne and Munich Radio orchestras around - the former with Elfride Trötschel like in the recording for RIAS, the later one with Elisabeth Lindermaier - which I think is the best). In the second movement you might quibble with my assumption that Klemperer sees Mahler in the Mendelssohn tradition as you could say it sounds more like Ravel. Though his tempos for the 3rd movement are always too quick (also in the Philharmonia recording). Yes: too quick - just compare it to George Szell's recording.

 

 

 

 

 

RE: New Klemperer releases on EMI

Which of the versions of the Klemperer downloads of the Beethoven 9th is in the best sound, "Stream" or "Zip"?

Adrian

RE: New Klemperer releases on EMI

Adrian, there is a 'lossless zip'.  That's the best one.

Chris

Chris A.Gnostic

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