KLEMPERER Complete Beethoven Symphonies (1956-60) - PABX012

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KLEMPERER Complete Beethoven Symphonies (1956-60) - PABX012

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Overview

BEETHOVEN Symphonies Nos. 1 - 9
BEETHOVEN
Große Fuge
BEETHOVEN Coriolan Overture

Recorded 1956-1960

Aase Nordmo Løvberg soprano
Christa Ludwig
alto
Waldemar Kmentt
tenor
Hans Hotter
bass
The Philharmonia Chorus
The Philharmonia Orchestra
Otto Klemperer
conductor

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This set contains the following albums:

Click below to expand note:
KLEMPERER conducts Beethoven Symphonies Volume 1 (1957/59) - PASC365

Klemperer's classic Beethoven Symphony Cycle starts here

Unprecedented sound quality in these new 32-bit XR-remastered transfers


Klemperer was a busy man in 1957 and thereabouts. Having polished off the Brahms symphonies (Pristine Audio PASC360-362) in the springtime, he soon set to work on the Beethoven canon. October alone saw recordings in London's Kingsway Hall of the bulk of the series - all or part of the First, Second, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth and Ninth were taped in stereo during this month, together with the Coriolan Overture present in this volume.

It's true to say that the recordings were very well made for their day - better perhaps than the Brahms which had preceded them. XR remastering here isn't a question of rescuing a dismal historic artefact; rather it's a case of eliciting the very finest sound quality possible from from fine source material - digging deep into the bass for added richness; opening out oft-constricted strings; lifting a veil from the upper treble. In short, whilst the current EMI transfers are perfectly acceptable representations of what was possible in 1957, these Pristine remastering offer us what more could have been heard had Klemperer and the Philharmonia had a 21st century recording facility to work with. It's one of those classic series of recordings which merit the very best sound quality - and which should stand thus in every collection.

Andrew Rose 

KLEMPERER conducts Beethoven Symphonies Volume 2 (1956-59) - PASC369

Klemperer's classic Beethoven Symphony Cycle: The middle set, Nos 4-6

Unprecedented sound quality in these new 32-bit XR-remastered transfers


It's true to say that these recordings were very well made for their day - better perhaps than the Brahms which had preceded them. XR remastering here isn't a question of rescuing a dismal historic artefact; rather it's a case of eliciting the very finest sound quality possible from from fine source material - digging deep into the bass for added richness; opening out oft-constricted strings; lifting a veil from the upper treble. In short, whilst the current EMI transfers are perfectly acceptable representations of what was possible in 1956-59, these Pristine remastering offer us what more could have been heard had Klemperer and the Philharmonia had a 21st century recording facility to work with. It's one of those classic series of recordings which merit the very best sound quality - and which should stand thus in every collection.

Andrew Rose 

KLEMPERER conducts Beethoven Symphonies Volume 3 (1957/60) - PASC371

Klemperer's classic Beethoven Symphony Cycle: The final set, Nos 7-9

"The performance is as great as anything one is likely to hear in this world" - The Gramophone


As with the previous releases in this series, I came to the original EMI recordings full of admiration. Consistently well-made and of this highest technical quality for their era, one wonders what benefits might arise from applying XR remastering to them? And then I hear the results - and suddenly those 1950s recordings don't sound so good after all in comparison! This is therefore a project dedicated to extracting the finest sound possible from a very accomplished working base. It is something I believe is as valid for well-known, well-made recordings of the past as it is for the rarer and more troublesome recordings I also work with.

This presents Klemperer at his very best; he can now be heard in unprecedented sound quality, significantly improving on all previous issues.

Andrew Rose


Click below to expand track listing:
KLEMPERER conducts Beethoven Symphonies Volume 1 (1957/59) - PASC365


  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 1 in C, Op. 21
  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 2 in D, Op. 36
  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 3 in E flat, Op. 55 "Eroica"
  • BEETHOVEN Coriolan Overture

    The Philharmonia Orchestra
     
    Otto Klemperer conductor



    Recording dates:

    Symphony No. 1 recorded 28-29 October 1957 
    Symphony No. 2 recorded 4-5 October 1957 
    *Symphony No. 3 recorded 29 October & 11-13 November 1959 
    Coriolan Overture recorded 21 October 1957 

    Recorded at Kingsway Hall, London 
    *Studio One, Abbey Road, London


XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, November 2012
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Otto Klemperer

Total duration: 2hr 9:10

KLEMPERER conducts Beethoven Symphonies Volume 2 (1956-59) - PASC369


  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 4 in B flat, Op. 60
  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 
  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68 "Pastoral"
  • BEETHOVEN Große Fuge, Op. 133

    The Philharmonia Orchestra
     
    Otto Klemperer conductor



    Recording dates:

    Symphony No. 4 recorded 21-22 October 1957
    *Symphony No. 5 recorded 22-24 October 1959 
    Symphony No. 6 recorded 28-29 October 1957 
    *Große Fuge recorded 26-27 March 1956 

    Recorded at Kingsway Hall, London 
    *Studio One, Abbey Road, London


XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, November 2012
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Otto Klemperer

Total duration: 2hr 19:16


KLEMPERER conducts Beethoven Symphonies Volume 3 (1957/60) - PASC371


  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92

  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 8 in F, Op. 93

  • BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"
    Aase Nordmo Løvberg soprano
    Christa Ludwig 
    alto
    Waldemar Kmentt 
    tenor
    Hans Hotter bass
    The Philharmonia Chorus


    The Philharmonia Orchestra
     
    Otto Klemperer conductor



    Recording dates:

    Symphony No. 7 Recorded 25 October, 19 November and 3 December, 1960 
    Symphony No. 8 Recorded 29-30 October 1957 
    Symphony No. 9 Recorded 31 October and 21-23 November 1957

    Recorded at Kingsway Hall, London


XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, November-December 2012
Cover artwork based on a photograph of Otto Klemperer

Total duration: 2hr 22:41


Fanfare Review

There is a perceptible improvement to be enjoyed as a result of Rose’s remastering efforts

REVIEW OF VOLUMES 2 & 3

These releases represent a sonic update by Andrew Rose of the well-known and highly regarded Klemperer EMI Kingsway Hall releases from 1956-60, plus the Grosse Fuge recorded at Abbey Road Studio One. Though EMI pressings of that era could be noisy and sometimes less than luminous, the master tapes themselves have always been considered to represent the best that was possible in early stereo, and listeners have been able to enjoy them on CD for some time now without having to make too many allowances for antiquity. There is nonetheless a perceptible improvement to be enjoyed as a result of Rose’s remastering efforts.

The sound here seems to have had a veil lifted from the treble, and the general effect of comparing these CDs side by side with the EMI releases is to note a greater kaleidoscopic and reverberant depth as a result of Rose’s efforts. These CDs sound nearly modern in their lack of “flatness.” And for long stretches one nearly forgets entirely the age of the endeavor. Of course, dynamics in climaxes tend to back away from the listener a bit, and the price of greater luminosity is sometimes a slight metallic tinge to the reverberant field. But all of this is so subtle, that the general effect is of a nearly modern set of recordings. There is little real distortion. A happy plus in these releases is the inclusion as liner notes of the original Gramophone reviews from the cycle.

Rehearing after many years, I’m struck by how normal Klemperer’s pacing actually is, for a conductor often accused of slowness. He was clearly in full vigor for these interpretations. And the Philharmonia of his era was an elegant orchestra, as close as Britain ever got to replicating the smoothness and elision of phrasing possible in Berlin and Vienna. It does not hurt that the other major conductor most associated with recording the Philharmonia during this period was Herbert von Karajan! Karajan consciously aimed to combine the electricity of Toscanini with the smoother and more metaphysical view favored by Furtwängler. Klemperer, by contrast, sought a slower and more consistently rounded approach, not unlike Furtwängler’s, but without Furtwängler’s sudden shifts in tempo.

The Fifth and Seventh symphonies make for good cases in point. Listening is like watching a powerful railroad train from the air. The train moves massively and even swiftly. It does not seem to slow down going uphill, nor speed-up going down. It leans slightly into curves, but its weight carries it around them at full speed. One is aware of great mass-in-motion and the sheer impressiveness of its unstoppability. Indeed, this power is so striking, one is tempted to extend the metaphor and suggest that period-performance practices of the present day are giving us toy trains!

Back in the early 1960s, much was made of how slowly the scherzo in the “Pastorale” came across in Walter’s Columbia Symphony recording—and it was commented that Klemperer’s recording was even slower. But listening with fresh ears, I’m struck by how well Klemperer’s tempo comports with a group of people actually dancing. If you were watching a folk dance on the village green, the participants would most likely move at a tempo like this—one which takes into account the sheer physics of mass and movement. Thought about this way, the more common “Pastorale” tempo choices often seem cartoonish and un-danceable.

In general, when it comes to phrasing Beethoven, an irreverent analysis might go like this: Toscanini—dogs sneezing; Karajan—a bullet train; Klemperer—a hundred car freight train.

I’m happy to be a hobo on this one. Save me a boxcar!


Steven Kruger
This article originally appeared in Issue 36:6 (July/Aug 2013) of Fanfare Magazine.