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You are of course right Chris.As in other things in life.....being all things to all men seldom works. I did say in my previous post "each to his own". I will attempt to be slightly more magnanimous (lol) then Parla and admit defeat.We are all looking for that *perfect*performance but it aint gonna happen.
For what it’s worth: I fully agree with the views put forward by hewett_dick, History Man and
uliwer. I’m also glad uliwer mentioned the beautifully produced Audite-set of Klemperer’s
complete Rias-recordings (much appreciated by Rob Cowan in Gramophone 1/12, p.
84). I’m even gladder his lordship dislikes Klemperer’s Mozart: it means
there’s still hope for me having some taste of my own, since I happen to
believe that Klemperer’s recorded legacy of Mozart constitutes some of the most
important additions to the catalogue. I’m also not sure that describing
Klemperer’s Mozart as inflexible, pompous, ponderous and lacking in finesse
shows a – dare I use the word? – profound knowledge of his discography. Not
only has Klemperer shown a lifelong commitment towards Mozart, but there also
exist a lot of recordings, either live or from the studio (the earliest being,
as far as I know, a Los Angeles radio recording of the Haffner symphonie from
1938 on Symposium). Even more than that: apart from Beethoven, there’s no
composer Klemperer recorded more often. Granted: Klemperer’s Mozart can be
unrelenting (which I don’t mind) and some of his late Mozart recordings (opera
and wind serenades) are unlucky for being too slow, but these are hardly pars
pro toto! Especially his Rias- and early Philharmonia- recordings (available
through Testament) present some of the symphonies like no other conductor of
his generation did: truly symphonic (with arguments and counter-arguments
clearly stated), nothing sentimental or rococo-like. Also, Klemperer helped
liberate Mozart from the Wagnerian aesthetic of blending orchestral colours; his
Mozart-recordings always have – very unusual for the time – winds forwardly
balanced without the strings dominating. In that sense Klemperer’s
uncompromising way with Mozart even helped pave the way for Mackerras. No refinement? Perhaps his lordship would deign to point out where exactly in Klemperer’s 1964 Zauberflöte-recording Tamino’s “Dies Bildnis…” or Pamina’s “Ach, ich fühl’s…” is lacking in that department. No
smile in the Papageno arias and duets? Just listen again!
Lilian, I thought we have reached a sort of agreement on Klemperer's Mozart. It is truly encouraging that in UK (if all of you are there) his Mozart is still well (maybe very well) received, but, elsewhere his Mozart (and not only) is considered as obsolete due to its slow, ponderous, pompous almost massive symphonic character.
In any case, you admit his Mozart is "unrelenting". His "lifelong commitment towards Mozart" is not in question at all. His results may be, at least for some people who believe (perceive) the composer is the most versatile, refine, lean in his musical lines and flexible in the interpretation. If you think his legacy prompted a tradition of conductors who follow his great vision and strong convictions, then, fine. Just name them. For me, Mackerras chose a very careful and flexible way to interpret Mozart. Most of the Mozartian conductors can hardly remind us of the tradition Klemperer left in this field.
As for Zauberflote, well the two pieces you mentioned are redeemed by the very fine singers, but one has to start with the...Overture to find out how the pace is set. What about his infamous "Le Nozze" (which has been vanished long ago) or his "Cosi" (which was only recently reissued thanks to the divine presence of late Margaret Price)?
Chris, to me Mackerras' Zauberflote is not ideal at all. His Telarc years were not that fruitful as the very last at Linn. Possibly, the outstanding recordings of the label help him to produce some truly superior Mozart. If you wish to see what I mean about Klemperer, try the overture of "Cosi". This wonderful witty piece of music turns to almost a Beethovenian serious (to the core) matter. The whole Opera sounds as a very solemn issue (of course, we have some wonderful singers and the marvellous Philharmonia, as a comfort).
As an audiophile, I bought the two sets of SACD by EMI with the "Last Six Symphonies" and the other one with Mendelssohn's Nos 3 &4 (plus the Hebrides Overture) and Schumann's Fourth. The sound is impressive, but, eventually, along with the solemn, mighty playing by the great Philharmonia, Mozart sounds as "haunted" by Bruckner (as a colleague/musician told me, when he listened to the first movement of 39th) and Mendelssohn too Beethovenian, to say the least. The "Italian" breathes very little Italy. Even Schumann's Fourth sounds too heavy and stern for such an intriguing and multifaceted work. A French critic wrote once in a very reputable publication about Klemperer's "Nozze": "He turned a day of folly to a solemn Marche funebre!".
In short, the issue is: if you want the music (no matter who is the composer) to sound bold (and beautiful), Klemperer can deliver it all the way. If you prefer more stylistic, true to the era and style of the composer music, Klemperer works quite well for composers such as Beethoven, Brahms, some Wagner, some Mahler and so on.
Parla, first of all, to quote Eliza Frost from another thread: you do not have the
right to lord over this forum! I fail to see what agreement has been reached on
the topic of Klemperer’s Mozart as far as your over-simplified dismissing him
is concerned. Just listen to any of his recordings of the little G minor symphony
(K. 183 uliwer mentioned – a Klemperer favourite) and the first and last
movement are simply exhilarating! Also, in its way and for its time Klemperer’s
Mozart is very stylish: no doubling of the wind parts, violins seated
antiphonally, a relatively small body of strings compared to his contemporaries,
the 1963 recording of the E flat major (K. 543) you mention being a case
in point: after a suspenseful introduction comes a majestically first movement,
yet with the themes having a spring in their step (to describe that as
ponderous would be a travesty!). It’s all there in the score. Secondly, is it
that difficult to admit you only know a small, late part of Klemperer’s
Mozartian output? I don’t mind admitting his Nozze and Così are unlucky (I said
as much in my post) but these aren’t exemplary: his Don Giovanni and
Zauberflöte are a different matter altogether! Thirdly, to use a favourite
tactic of yours: you really should read my post better – I never stated that Klemperer
established a tradition with his approach to Mozart. How could he? The man was
one of a kind! I only pointed out he helped unWagnerize Mozart and was one of the first to approach his music truly classical. Finally, whether or not I’m British (in fact I’m not) is irrelevant: I never knew nationality is instrumental in the appreciation of a conductor’s art. In so far as Klemperer’s Mozart is considered obsolete (happily, in any case, not by those folks at Emi): just name those who do…
Lilian, I don't think anyone who defends his/her position "lords over the forum". Actually, I admire your dominating passion for Klemperer.
I don't know how much you have read from my posts, but I'm not listening to older recordings, unless they are truly audiophile products. So, I judge him by his better recorded products of EMI or Testament. His EMI Mozart, even his recent transfer in SACD of the late six Symphonies, fail to convince me that this is Mozart with style and within tradition. It is his Mozart (one of a kind); take it or leave it. By the way, his 39, in this set, is recorded in 1956, according to the booklet. The fact that he is true to the score does not ensure he is correct all the way.
The folks at EMI are doing what they have to do. In some parts of continental Europe, Asia and, to some extent, in US, Klemperer is simply a major conductor of the past (in the best case). His Mozart, at least in France, he has been disregarded (to say the least).
P.S.: I wouldn't be that kind to call his "Nozze" and "Cosi" as "unlucky". He conducted them. He chose what to do with the works.
Parla, I think we've been over most of this enough now. But I must say I was surprised to read (from you particularly): "The fact that he is true to the score does not ensure he is correct all the way."
Regarding Mozart symphony No.39, I think there has been some discussion of the EMI SACD set before and someone pointed out that the recording on that set, though stated to be the 1956 one, is actually the later one. You can easily check: if the timing given for the first movement is 8' 18" then it is the later version.
We should find time (perhaps on a new thread) for a discussion of 'Cosi fan Tutte' and how it should be performed.
PS: Your mentioning Klemperer's Wagner reminded me of a previous discussioin about Konya's superb Lohengrin inadequately represented in recordings. Klemperer conducted Lohengrin at Covent Garden with Konya (and Crespin as Elsa). The BBC were NOT in attendance.
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