Otto Klemperer conducts works of BACH – Soloists/Budapest Radio Sym./ LA Philharmonic – Guild

by | Oct 12, 2011 | Classical Reissue Reviews

Otto Klemperer = J.S. Bach: Magnificat in D Major, BWV 243; “Bist du bei mir,” BWV 508 (arr. Klemperer); Air from Suite No. 3; Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D Major, BWV 1050 – Anna Bathy and Judit Sandor, sopranos/ Magda Tiszay, contralto/ Lajos Somogyvari, tenor/ Gyorgy Littasy, bass/ Oliver Nagy, continuo/ Sandor Margittay, organ/ Budapest Chorus and Budapest Radio Symphony Orchestra/ Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (BWV 508 and Air)/ Otto Klemperer – Guild GHCD 2360, 60:38 [Distr. By Albany] ****: 
The reverence conductor Otto Klemperer (1885-1973) maintained for the music of J.S. Bach finds some testimony here, in concerts culled from venues in Los Angeles and Budapest, 1945 and 1950. In a brief interview I had with pianist Leon Fleisher two years ago, I asked Fleisher the difference between a collaboration with George Szell and one with Otto Klemperer: “With Klemperer I had more of a sense of the transcendent,” Fleisher quipped without even a moment’s hesitation.
The large work presented on this disc is the 13 January 1950 Bach Magnificat made at the Radio Budapest studios. A churning power infiltrates the entire performance, although the unity of ensemble occasionally breaks down. I find Lajos Somogyvari’s tenor quite attractive; the second soprano Judit Sandor’s top becomes scratchy. After a potent choral number, “Fecit potential,” the tenor aria “Deposuit potentes” addresses the same issue of numinous power. Yet the individual instrumental soli, the flutes and oboes, can project an uncanny delicacy of tone, their timbres melting in lovely fashion in the alto’s “esurientes implicit bonis.” The “continuo” as such is supplied by Oliver Nagy’s piano, so purists need not apply. After an affecting Terzett for soprano and alto, the final chorus, “Gloria Patri,” builds impressively from the resonant male basses through the high sopranos, then reasserts itself after a pregnant caesura, a kind of motet-recitative of stunning effect underlined by the tympani. The full complement of horns, flutes, and strings then reverberates with the unabashed Glory to God.
The two opening string arrangements, of the “Bist du bei mir” from Anna Magdalena’s Notebook and the Air of the G String (11 February and 16 December 1945), convey that immediate aura of earthbound spirituality. While not so awesome in its “sanctity” as is the Furtwaengler Air, the Klemperer certainly sustains the singing line as spun gold into interstellar space.  For the bubbling Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 in D (13 January 1950), Klemperer has his old colleague Annie Fischer (1914-1995) at the keyboard, a rare treat for collectors and connoisseurs both! Tibor Ney, violin, and Janos Szebenyi provide the complement of the continuo players, and the immediacy of their musical intimacy becomes apparent, a sunny rendition par excellence that does not skimp of the piano’s pure bravura. By the last chord of the final Allegro, our enchantment is complete, and the Klemperer mystique has more than justified itself.
—Gary Lemco

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