Otto Klemperer = BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 55 “Eroica”; Mozart: Symphony No. 29 in A Major, K. 201 – Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra (Beethoven)/Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Otto Klemperer
Medici Masters MM037-2, 78:09 [www.mediciarts.co.uk] *** [Distrib. by Naxos]:
The venerable Otto Klemperer (1885-1973) assumes the helm of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic (17 April 1958) for this version of the Eroica Symphony, which is a curious mix of the conductor’s monumental sluggish style and the inordinate speed he could muster in episodes as the music gains momentum. He takes the exposition repeat in the first movement to add yet more girth and resolution to an already massive body of sound. I find his consistent marcato in the Scherzo movement more of an affectation than a revelation. There suffer some distinctly muddy slurs in the flow of the lower strings and some woodwinds. But the Marcia funebre does convey a noble dignity, a magisterial beauty, that warrants a ticket to the concert. The placement of the Stockholm strings as antiphons–the double basses on the left–makes of the opening statements of the Prometheus theme a moment of extended chamber music, intimate and mighty at once. Klemperer loves to slow down contrapuntal passages–much like his colleague Scherchen–so as to savor the strict entries and harmonic foci of the layered melodic lines. The Stockholm first flute earns his plaudits with a lovely variation and some high-flown scales against the strings. No less affecting, the oboe makes its plaint against tympani and warbling strings and woodwinds, inviting the mounting figures to achieve those musical, stratified Himalayan peaks that Klemperer typically inhabits. The audience acknowledges that Klemperer’s pontifications have refreshed the faithful.
The Mozart A Major Symphony (15 April 1956) from Bavaria enjoys beautifully homogeneous playing from the orchestra, this despite the unfortunately slow tempo for the opening Allegro moderato, whose magic few conductors–barring Cantelli and Walter–miss through an overdose of earnestness. The development section of the first movement fares better, especially as Klemperer typically savors lithe light contrapuntal or tremolando textures. Lovely muted strings open the intimate Andante, a walking pace that does not become heavily long-winded. The dotted rhythms maintain a buoyancy and capacity for legato all too rare in Mozart interpretation. The hunting-horn motif already infiltrates the jaunty Menuetto as it will the brisk finale: Allegro con spirito. The latter, perhaps Mozart’s most lithe music in his catalogue at the time (1774), receives a consistently enthusiastic realization from Klemperer and his gifted Munich players.