Klemperer Conducts Mozart, Vol 3 — Symphonies 29 & 41, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik — Pristine Classical

by | Sep 29, 2020 | Classical CD Reviews, Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 201; Serenade No. 13 in G Major, K. 525 “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”; Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 “Jupiter” – Philharmonia Orchestra/ Otto Klemperer – Pristine Audio PASC 608, 72:33 [www.pristineclassical.com] ****:  

Andrew Rose extends his remastering of the Otto Klemperer Mozart symphony legacy with some fine work with the Philharmonia Orchestra, 1954-1962.  My quibble lies in the conductor’s choice of tempo for the Allegro moderato of the 1774 Symphony No. 29 (rec. 8-9 October 1954), which for me suffers the same fate of too many an interpreter’s decision, to play the 2/2 metrics marcato, a moribund effect that the magical Guido Cantelli completely dispels with his enlivened tempo with the same orchestra! That Klemperer achieves a superb richness of tone I do not deny, and I and many a commentator praise Klemperer’s divided first and second violins for their luxurious, antiphonal beauty.  

Klemperer has more success with the muted loveliness of the Andante in D, which achieves the intimacy of a nocturnal serenade.  The music proceeds in galant, Viennese tropes, both ornate and sweetly affecting, especially when the Philharmonia winds add their distinctive colors. The Menuetto: Allegretto enjoys a hearty aggression in dotted rhythm rife with hints of the hunt that no less invade the last movement.  The E-flat Major Trio section takes us back to a courtly environment. The last movement, Allegro con spirito, 6/8, evinces the same falling octave we hear in the opening movement, now enjoying a lusty energy and propulsion. The Mannheim rocket figures and periodic counterpoints flow seamlessly, and the syncopes in the strings coordinate in fine measure with the Philharmonia winds and brass.  

The ubiquitous serenade Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1787) has a sturdy advocate in Klemperer (rec. 25 March 1956), who thoroughly relishes the enlarged sound of his Philharmonia strings. Both muscular and witty, the performance seems etched in stern, resonant periods, broadly stated. The enchanted Romanze: Andante bears an easy, fluid polish that proves irresistible in its lyrical, rondo format. Klemperer more than delights in the various, chromatic moments that characterize the Menuetto and Rondo: Allegro movements.  Some may find Klemperer’s third movement a mite too assertive, but the contrasting, flowing Trio section has its own charms.  We can enjoy the palpable tip-of-the-bow effects in the last movement, piquant and pointed. A performance of buoyancy and wit, this Klemperer excursion into the familiar manages to avoid ponderous clichés.

Portrait of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Wolfgang Amadeua Mozart

If any conductor possesses the imperious temperament for Mozart’s 1788 Jupiter Symphony (rec. 6-7 March 1962), Otto Klemperer makes an ideal candidate. Curiously, the opening Allegro vivace displays a degree of restraint that elevates the music’s elastic, contrapuntal lyricism.  The initial motto figure proceeds with both elegance and defiance in the course of the sonata-form, and Klemperer’s naturally aristocratic presence lifts the figures to a fine-honed, lush chastity of style.  If ever there were a “corrective” to the classic – and thoroughly manic – performance by Albert Coates, this is it.

The strangely compelling Andante cantabile second movement, a sarabande with contrasting impulses between its two themes, receives from Klemperer an almost mystical transparency, a veil of beguiling sound from his strings and winds.  The late pages become a kind of vaguely tragic dirge, tempered by a serenity of spirit rare in music.  A pity the arch-Romantic Furtwaengler left us no sound document of the Jupiter, but Klemperer delivers a poignant, lilting Menuetto: Allegretto that luxuriates in suavely stylized counterpoints and melodic periods. The last movement: Molto allegro stands as “a miracle of rare device” by any standard of musical dexterity. The five-voice fugato manipulates its four-note motto as a sterling example for Beethoven’s own four notes in C Minor. Klemperer’s unhurried evolution of the music’s plastic permutations possesses a learned clarity of articulation and a robust emotional energy.  The woodwinds, high and low, deliver a kaleidoscope of buoyant colors, all the while the strings and brass interject their own, dazzling figurations. The late pages assume the character of a chorale that must have inspired Mendelssohn every waking day of his musical life.  Even after the last bars have sounded, Klemperer’s realization of Mozart’s jubilant spirit rings aloud inwardly.

—Gary Lemco 

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