Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A picture of greatness

Otto Klemperer: live recordings from the BBC

Here's another release from the great Itter Broadcast Collection, recordings to tape and acetate disc made by Lyrita's Richard Itter from BBC FM transmissions beginning in the mid-1950s. These recording premieres on four CDs show Otto Klemperer, my favourite 20th century conductor, at the peak of his powers. His Mozart should win over all but the most doctrinaire HIPsters. The middle-period A major Symphony K.201 is relaxed and winning, while the late, great G minor Symphony K. 441 is wound up considerably tighter. "Mozart's in the closet," the last movement begins, "Let him out, let him out, let him out!" Klemperer has us worried about the composer's release, and his fine musicians keep up the pressure throughout. Violinist Bronislav Gimpel provides a lovely tone in Mozart's final Violin Concerto, K. 219, weaving through the most perfectly constructed accompaniment. This is the happiest I've felt after listening to a Mozart disc in a long time. Beethoven (no. 2), Schumann (no. 4) and Brahms (no. 2) symphonies are so impressive, but it's the Bruckner 7th that's the real standout here. This is a performance for the ages, from the quiet by-ways to the blazing glory of the slowly building climaxes. This is a picture of greatness, and I couldn't possibly recommend it more highly.

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