KLEMPERER conducts Brahms Symphonies Volume 3 (1957) - PASC362

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KLEMPERER conducts Brahms Symphonies Volume 3 (1957) - PASC362

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BRAHMS Symphony No. 4
Tragic Overture
Recorded in 1957
Total duration: 51:40

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 1976 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. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
    Recorded 27-29 March 1957

  • BRAHMS Tragic Overture, Op. 81
    Recorded 29 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: 51:40

REVIEW Symphony No. 4 (1976 reissue)

There are sixteen versions of the Brahms Fourth Symphony currently available, and even at its full price, the Klemperer retained a competitive position that its relegation to the HMV Concert Classics label naturally enhances. As a reading it has admirable qualities; it has vitality and integrity, and the playing of the Philharmonia Orchestra is unfailingly responsive. It is as generally recommendable as Klemperer's fine version of the Second Symphony, though it possesses neither the smoothness of texture and beauty of tone that distinguishes the Karajan (DG 138 927, 11/64) and misses something of the intensity of the old Toscanini RCA version (now deleted). But if it wants some of the warmth of say, Bruno Walter on CBS Classics (61211, 5/71) or Kurt Sandcrling in the slow movement (Sanderling's record seems to me to have been somewhat underrated—RCA SB6879, 2/74), it has undeniably power and a sense of forward movement. I am not much enamoured of the accelerando at the end of the first movement or the rather mannered ritardando in the fifth bar of the Scherzo but these details will worry some readers less than others. The sound quality is well detailed and in comparing the new pressing with the Columbia original, apart from smoother surfaces, one feels a greater sharpening of the aural focus and more cleanly defined detail. Of course, there is formidable competition at the bargain end of the market: Loughran's record with the Hallé Orchestra (Classics for Pleasure CFP40084, 10/74) is as detailed and spacious while the performance has a refreshing spontaneity. At full-price Karajan, Sanderling, and Kertesz (Decca SXL6678, 1/76) are well worth considering, alongside this present issue.

R. L., The Gramophone, August 1976