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I can still recall, sixty four years ago, asking a friend, a music student who'd heard one or two of Klemperer's Philharmonia concerts, what he thought of him. At the time the London consensus was formed around Klemperer's intellectual grasp of interpretation in Beethoven. My friend was impressed by the original sonorities in his performances. I'd only heard him on record and on the Third Programme, which in those days wasn't even transmitted acceptably by the AM BBC over most of the country and attracted such press hostility as an institution improvement couldn't be expected. As we now know, Klemperer in the recording studio was rather a different conductor from the Klemperer of the concert hall, and EMI's salesmanship wasn't all that helpful. But one of its first Klemperer discs paired the Jupiter Symphony, (with which he had stunned both the Philharmonia and the RFH audience in his Festival of Britain concert replacing a withdrawing Toscanini and - much to the disgust of the patriotic press, the Enigma Variations along the way) and the little Salzburg A major symphony No 29, heard here. A broadcast of the mono Philharmonia recording may have been my introduction to the piece. It's still in the catalogue.
The Cologne Radio audience was far luckier. The sonorities are certainly there, and the context helps too - these are works in which repetition is the key to structure, and after the Bach (presented by a full symphony orchestra, but one in which the problem of balancing weight and detail has been solved - if not - pace Ralph Moore - completely by the odd player on the night) you are already fully aware that Klemperer plays all the notes, observes repeat instructions conscientiously, but, even in Bach, phrases and balances so that the repeats themselves become developments using the same notes to ends determined by the fact you have already heard them once. The A major symphony grows and flourishes in a completely organic way, in a world which, for the fifties, suggests almost the pace and mastery of Klemperer's slightly younger contemporary Jean Renoir in "La Regle du Jeu", especially in the quasi-operatic finale. This does NOT happen in the EMI recording studio. The repeats in the Beethoven First Symphony are even more fascinating, and in the second movement the repeat of the exposition is so absorbing it almost overshadows the development itself, which suddenly gathers pace in an unaltered tempo and seems - as it should - to be much shorter. Klemperer's tempi at this stage of his career were clearly governed by his ear for balance and care for details of phrasing (perhaps the Brahms symphony recordings are the most successful of his studio recordings because they too operate in that spirit). The Beethovenian image here is sustained among other things by a series of unexpected events in the balancing of the harmony as well, so that in the finale tempo is the least important factor. This must be one of the few discs in which Klemperer's mastery can be clearly glimpsed throughout, not least because after hearing it you are not thinking about anything but the music - and music itself.
Great live version of the First Symphony worth the price of this cd alone. Who gets excited about Beethoven's first symphony? Not many people but Toscanini was certainly a great exponent and his 1937 recording with the BBC Symphony Orchestra has a wonderfully played slow movement. Was Klemperer good at this work? Well he had 'form' having recorded it by the acoustic process as long ago as the early 1920s in the days of the Weimar Republic before he was forced to leave Germany. After the Second World War Klemperer felt comfortable in Cologne, the city he had had an association with right back to the days at the end of the First World War when the great anti-Nazi Konrad Adenauer was the mayor of the city and had something to do with Klemperer's appointment there. At the time of this recording in the mid-50s Adenauer was the First Chancellor of the whole of West Germany. This performance and the obese far slower recording of the symphony that Klemperer recorded for EMI in late 1957 are like chalk and cheese. Why? Because this performance is like a jewel of great conducting and playing at the correct tempi. I simply can't stop playing it.
Per chi come me è amante di trasmissioni televisive come "Quark"o "Geo" non può non conoscere e non apprezzare le musiche che le accompagnano. La 3^ Suite di Bach è una di queste ed è musica per le mie orecchie.