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Uliwer, by referring to some old recordings of Klemperer on some youth Symphonies does not change the fact that most of his well-known EMI recordings of the major Mozart works sound indeed slow, dragging even pompous. Particularly, his Opera recordings are almost a disaster (e.g. La nozze di Figaro) and the late Symphonies sound like almost Gothic ones. It's an interesting alternative of a conductor of authority, but a remotely idiomatic one.
The Music for Summernight's Dream does not need "so much drama". It is incidental music for a "comedy" (this how the play is categorised and, definitely, it is not a clear drama per se). There should be nuances of elegance, refinement, beauty of tone, clarity of the musical lines and so on. The "Hebrides" Overture is an island in the North Atlantic, but it should not sound all the way teutonic. In any case, I think the Symphonies he recorded sound a bit too heavy and less flexible (see the "Italian" for example).
As for Wagner, he was quite right to dismiss Mendelssohn after his early years. He was not mean at all. Mendelssohn had been almost stagnant in his development, while Wagner...
Parla, you're really 'leading with your chin' here. (I hope you understand this English expression).
That's that the first time I've heard Mozart's Prague and Jupiter symphonies referred to as 'youth' symphonies. Nos 25 and 29 hardly fit that bill either.
We've all understood that you find some of his Mozart two slow, even 'dragging or pompous' but many of us would disagree with something that is your view, and by no means a fact.
What is a fact is that Klemperer's performances of Mozart contributed significantly to overturning the common nineteenth and early twentieth century view that Mozart's music was elegant, refined but somehow rather trivial. Like his performances or not, we are all the beneficiaries of that development.
Mendelsson too has been saddled with the same 'lightweight' but refined, elegant label. Again Klemperer's performances have been a valuable corrective to that. As for the 'Hebrides' overture, well, I can only suggest to you a visit to the northern Scottish Isles. Mendelssohn did at least make the journey!
Finally, Parla, your last comment is unworthy!
"As for Wagner, he was quite right to dismiss Mendelssohn after his early years...... Mendelssohn had been almost stagnant in his development, while Wagner..."
You know as well as anyone that both Mozart and Mendelsson were dead or dying by the age Wagner's 'development' seriously took off. It seems that it was Mendelssohn's ill-luck to have composed two or three masterpieces before reaching his 18th birthday. But to write off as stagnant the development of his later works, the 4th and 3rd synphonies (wrongly numbered chronologically), the violin concerto, and Elias (Elijah), well, I'm lost for words!
Chris, I'm not afraid to be "leading with my chin", if need be.
My referrence to "youth Symphonies" was about uliwer's mentioning of K.183 and K.201. The "Boulez reference to K.550" does not constitute a recording.
Of course, what I see as "slow, dragging or pompous" is a personal perception. However, those who disagree have not proved (so far) the opposite! At least, certain performances of specific recordings are factually slow, dragging etc. (Le Nozze, Cosi fan Tutte, to mention just two).
I fail to see in which way Klemperer's performances of Mozart "contributed significantly to overturning the common..." With few exceptions (possibly Karajan and Bernstein, but with much different style and refinement of sound), the trend has become (again) a Mozart of chamber style orchestras, lean and elegant playing, even return to "period" practices or/and instruments. In any case, I don't feel as a "beneficiary" of the Klemperer (short) development. However, I am interested in listening to his recordings as the view of a man of a great spirit and strong convictions.
Again, in Mendelssohn, his "valuable corrective" was short-lived. Mendelssohn, the last decades, has been performed with elegance, smaller orchestras, refinement of tone, transparency of line etc. One of the very good recordings of the "Hebrides" I own is the one with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra (on Linn). It has almost nothing to do with the Klemperer "corrective" line. And what for? The orchestration even of the "Hebrides" is standard, lean and entirely classical (not even the presence of trombones. Just two trumpets and the horns in the brass section).
Mendelssohn, contrary to most of the composers, had the features of a child prodigy, who did not manage to grow, mature and develop a cycle of a solid opus. Mozart, in a shorter life, did it. Schubert too (in even shorter life). In Mendelssohn, with few exceptions, the masterpieces were there from the beginning and they were occasionally repeated afterwards. Take the "Lieder ohne Worte" or even his whole Piano output (masterpieces pop up at any time and unevenly, in his lifetime). His Lieder or even his Choral Works too. His First Piano Trio is more popular than his Second, while both sound equally good. His Second String Quintet is a way forward than his First, but the latter could be easily written as a "mature" work (it is equally beautiful and sounds wonderful too). In the String Quartets, there is a kind of "development" (progress), but still, in the op.44 we have three clearly uneven Quartets. So, where is the development (growing in artistic maturity) in the form let's say of Beethoven or Haydn?
Chris, I'm not afraid to be "leading with my chin", if need be.
Fair enough Parla! The Forum would be the poorer without your unique style!
Of course, you are right about the trend towards ever smaller, lighter, ethereal , helium-filled performances, and not only of Mozart and Mendelsson. Beethoven and Brahms too. And watch out. Soon it will reach Wagner. Original instruments, one to a part: and someone will discover that Wagner intended that the 'pure fool', Parsifal really requires the ethereal tones of a boy treble. (Just joking). As you can gather, I'm not very sympathetic towards this trend.
Even so one shouldn't forget that Klemperer died aged 87. It's not right to pick on a few recordings (the late Mozart operas), made in his mid-eighties, out of all those years. On the other hand Mendelsson died aged 38, well before Wagner had fully 'developed'. Death is fairly final as far as development is concerned!
Best and 'authentic' wishes,
Thanks a lot for your kind understanding, Chris.
In any case, I never meant to degrade Klemperer's conducting and recording legacy. However, after so many years of listening, I feel a bit "sober" against any great performer. So, I tend to point out certain weak points of his/her otherwise brilliant career and considerable contribution to his/her Art.
Despite Klemperer's clear winners in Beethoven, Mahler, Brahms, some Wagner etc., I cannot neglect or overlook the "not so perfect" or idiomatic Mozart, Mendelssohn, Bach or Schumann. However, I can fully understand that, for some listeners, even this "unusual" Mozart/Bach etc. can be a perfect vehicle to reach their works.
As for Mendelssohn, I thought I made myself clear. The difference with other masters of composition is that he did not develop, in a strict way, his genius. In a much shorter life, Schubert managed to show the development of his talent, compositional skill, craft and scale of composition. So, my problem with Mendelssohn is his sort of complacence as for his opus.
Best and "genuine" wishes, as ever,
Thanks to this thread I am inspired to delve deeper and deeper into the Klemperer recorded legacy - last night the turn of Haydn,the Military symphony.Brilliant.
I think it should be mentioned that Klemperer was fortunate in having a first class orchestra,the Philharmonia,at his disposal during his Indian summer.The wind instruments particularly were outstanding.This can be clearly heard on those marvelous Walter Legg produced Columbia recordings.
I would not call Klemperer's Mozart "not so perfect" in fact quite the opposite.Lacking in sentimentality it certainly was. He freely admitted colour and style did not interest him, as he said on the famous Face to Face interview "I leave that to (Bruno) Walter". Be it Mozart or Mahler or anyone else, you always get the "architecture" of a piece with Klemperer,and I disagree with Parla in so far as Klemperer was always true to the spirit of the composer he was performing, that has nothing to do with the style or size of the orchestra.It goes deeper then that.
I never contested the Klemperer's "best intentions" (to be always true to the spirit of the composer). However, I still believe the results betray him a bit. By all means, his "deeper" journey to the essence of Mozart or Bach's works were absolutely valid. However, the face value (the surface) should be truthful too. So, issues such as style, size and type of orchestra count as well. At least Mackerras managed both quite well, in his Linn recordings.
P.S.: HM, we should not forget where the best intentions lead to...
Fair comment Parla and each to his own. If in fifty years time Mackerras Linn recordings are being listened and talked about as we are now.Then you are right.
Say what you like about old Klemperer,this is a long thread and we are discussing recordings at least half a century old! I wonder why.
Parla, History Man,
Now this becomes even more interesting. May I suggest the following:
As each of you correctly observe, Klemperer and MacKerras are each aiming for something completely different. Each of them emphasises different aspects of the music and willfully ignores others. I would like to suggest that each of these performances owe their success to the single-mindedness of the interpreter's approach. Personally, I enjoy both performances. For me the fatal mistake is found in those performances where the conductor tries to have it both ways - and usually falls flat on his face (metaphorically).
I think most great performances are like that. That HM and I prefer Klemperer's 'one-sidedness' and Parla another is simply a reflection of what we each 'need' in a performance. If you want both you will more likely find it in two different performances than in one that tries to combine all the different aspects. For me, too many modern performances fall into the trap of trying to 'have it both ways'.
How does this strike you, gentlemen?
I can certainly agree with the general idea of your post, Chris. I have already said, on various threads and different occasions, that the performances we appreciate reflect, to a high degree, the perception we have for the work in question.
Having said that, I cannot exclude this rare and divine possibility a gifted and versatile conductor to achieve both to be profound (going to retrieve the "spirit" of the composer and its work) and stylistically correct (choosing the right orchestra, instruments, playing style and practices etc.). Mackerras, in his Linn recordings of the Late Symphonies, has achieved, to a safe degree, both.
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