MOZART: Symphony No. 29; Symphony No. 35; Symphonies Nos. 38 – 41 – New Philharmonia/ Otto Klemperer – EMI Classics

by | May 10, 2006 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

MOZART: Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 201; Symphony No. 35 in D Major, K, 385 “Haffner;” Symphony No. 38 in D Major “Prague;” Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543; Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550; Symphony No. 41 in C Major, K. 551 “Jupiter” – Philharmonia Orchestra/ New Philharmonia Orchestra (K. 201)/ Otto Klemperer

EMI Classics Great Recordings of the Century 3 45815, (2 CDs) 79:00; 75:29 ****:

Otto Klemperer (1885-1973) recorded the series of Mozart symphonies with the Philharmonia Orchestra over a nine-year period, 1956-1965. Despite his reputation for monumentality and exaggerated girth in his music-making, Mozart enjoys a stylish, youthful energy and architectural ardor in Klemperer’s conceptions, where my only quibble is with the marcato tempo in the opening of the Symphony No. 29 in A (21 September 1965), a movement the younger Italian maestro Guido Cantelli gets exactly right. A rigorous sense of musical organization permeates the Klemperer renditions of Mozart, with silken transitions, say, in the Menuetto and Trio of the Haffner Symphony. The Philharmonia Orchestra’s penchant for watercolors among the woodwinds produces sounds in which the audiophile can bask at will. The controlled momentum of the Haffner finale commands both careful attention to the oboe’s color and to the pointed metrics in  the course of ceremonial pageantry. The G Minor Symphony (23 July 1956) emerges in almost Spartan terms, an austere, noble descent into personal anguish. Again, hearken to the oboe part in the lachrymose Molto allegro. The Andante, too, proceeds with the chastity of a Dorian column of sound. Lovely homogeneity of sound from the French horns in the Menuetto and Trio. The Finale takes up arms against a roiling sea of troubles.

For concentrated mass and sublimated aggression, turn to Klemperer’s realizations of the E-flat Symphony (24 July 1956) and the D Major “Prague” Symphony (27 March 1962), especially in Klemperer’s handling of Mozart’s pungent counterpoint.  The Dramma giacosa of the E-flat Symphony is particularly successful in Klemperer’s version. My own predilection in the Prague Symphony embraces Frederick Stock and Bruno Walter. The Jupiter Symphony (7 March 1962) emanates all kinds of allusions to The Magic Flute, intense and processional. I could not help but think of how different Klemperer’s approach is from that of Albert Coates, who threw Jovian thunderbolts from the outset. A serenity and self-possession permeates every bar of the Klemperer rendition, Mozart and God – the Eternal Clock-Makers. Klemperer’s view of the Andante cantabile is panoramic, a stately, albeit agitated, canter through Miltonic gardens. Grace and figurative transcendence go hand-in-hand for the final two movements, a spaciousness coupled to a cosmic intricacy of design, courtesy of those astounding Philharmonia players. We only miss Klemperer’s way with the C Major Linz Symphony to complete our survey of two magisterial musical temperaments in sublime harmony.

— Gary Lemco

Related Reviews
Logo Pure Pleasure
Logo Apollo's Fire
Logo Crystal Records Sidebar 300 ms
Logo Jazz Detective Deep Digs Animated 01