KLEMPERER conducts Brahms Symphonies Volume 2 (1956/57) - PASC361

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KLEMPERER conducts Brahms Symphonies Volume 2 (1956/57) - PASC361

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BRAHMS Symphony No. 2
Symphony No. 3
Recorded in 1956 and 1957
Total duration: 75:43

The Philharmonia Orchestra
conductor Otto Klemperer

This set contains the following albums:

Klemperer's classic stereo Brahms Symphony cycle

Definitive recordings in stunning new 32-bit XR remastered transfers

The classic 1956-57 Klemperer Brahms recordings, made with the Philharmonia Orchestra by EMI in London's Kingsway Hall, have long been regarded by many as perhaps the finest ever made. Happily the EMI engineers opted to record in stereo, at a time when far too many recordings were still being made in mono, and stereo reproduction in the home was limited to a very narrow range of open-reel tape machines.

For the day, the recordings stand up reasonably well, though as the 1977 review above demonstrates, as little as twenty years later they were showing their age, and so it's little surprise that 55 years after the event Klemperer's Brahms comes across as a little faded and dusty, if only in sound quality.

Happily this can now be rectified to quite stunning effect. 32-bit XR remastering has served here to bring a quality of sound unimaginable in 1957 to these recordings, shedding decades in the process, and revealing a depth, vibrancy and dynamism that previous issues simply failed to convey.

Andrew Rose

  • BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
    Recorded 29, 30 October 1956

  • BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op.90
    Recorded 26, 27 March 1957

    Recorded Kingsway Hall, London
    Transferred from HMV box set SLS 804 

    The Philharmonia Orchestra
    Otto Klemperer

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

Total duration: 75:43

REVIEW Symphony No. 2 (1977 reissue)

I heard this shortly after listening to the RCA/Reiner recording of Brahms No. 4 (reviewed last month—GL1 1961), both of the same vintage, and could not help but be struck by the difference of sound. Both are good—but both very different. The RCA is brighter and more vivid: the HMV had neither of those characteristics, even when it was first issued. Yet it is satisfactory enough to convey Klemperer's superb performance, which is what matters. Klemperer always liked his woodwind well forward and if you played this to someone who didn't know what he was listening to and started at the third movement, he might think it a piece for woodwind ensemble, so forward is their sound, though the string pizzicato bass is perfectly clearly balanced.

But it is the performance that matters. Klemperer's perception of the architecture of a movement, of where to increase and when to relax the tension, makes this symphony seem stronger that it is often allowed to be, yet there is no lack of lyricism. It is a pleasure to have these great performances (for that of the Tragic Overture is tremendously powerful) available again—and at a reduced price.

T. H., The Gramophone, August 1977