BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 6 in A Major; Te Deum – Heather Harper, soprano Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano/ Richard Lewis, tenor/ Marian Nowakowski, bass/ BBC Chorus and Orchestra/Otto Klemperer – Testament

by | Aug 12, 2005 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 6 in A Major; Te Deum – Heather Harper,
soprano/Janet Baker, mezzo-soprano/ Richard Lewis, tenor/ Marian
Nowakowski, bass/ BBC Chorus and Orchestra/Otto Klemperer

Testament SBT 1354 76:54 (Distrib. Harmonia Mundi)****:

Another monumental reading of a Bruckner symphony and of the Te Deum
under Otto Klemperer (1886-1973) – this from January 1961 with the BBC
and several of his favorite vocal soloists. The edition of the A Major
Symphony (1881; rev. Haas, 1935) excises some of the finale to tighten
its dramatic features; but still Klemperer imparts a plodding
monumentality to the opening Maestoso, a pesant, funereal pace which
rarely breaks free in the same way Joseph Keilberth scored so
brilliantly in his reading with the Berlin Philharmonic (Teldec CD
8.43194).  Klemperer’s lyric grandeur works to better advantage in
the Adagio and in the trio section of Scherzo. All credit to the BBC
wind and brass choirs, which exude a light and lithe muscularity of
line throughout. The last movement Finale: Allegro ma non troppo fares
best, enjoying a palpable surge of energy, shedding the ponderous armor
of the first movement and basking in the biting stops and starts, the
alternating, cosmic and intimate musings.

The 1884 Te Deum has been a periodic, grand moment for me ever since I
first heard Bruno Walter’s splendid CBS inscription.  Klemperer
extracts some real, hallowed mystery out of this February 1961 reading;
just listen to what effects the chorus and orchestra collaborate on at
the Sanctus section of the opening Te Deum Laudamus. Some splendid
heartfelt singing from Richard Lewis, who proved just as durable and
idiomatic in Das Lied von der Erde of Mahler. Marian Nowakowski packs a
bass-baritone voice of persuasive power; you can sense what his Tuba
mirum would be in Mozart. Harper and Baker, who realized the airy
figures of Mendelssohn for Klemperer’s magical Midsummer Night’s Dream,
tender equally heavenly entreaties in Bruckner. For Klemperer
connoisseurs, this is a high-power addition to the legacy.

–Gary Lemco

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