Paul Kletzki = MAHLER: Symphony No. 1 in D Major; SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 38 “Spring” – Israel Philharmonic Orchestra/ Paul Kletzki – Preiser

by | May 1, 2007 | Classical Reissue Reviews | 0 comments

Paul Kletzki = MAHLER: Symphony No. 1 in D Major; SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 1 in B-flat Major, Op. 38 “Spring” – Israel Philharmonic Orchestra/ Paul Kletzki

Preiser, Famous Conductors of the Past 90730, 79:21 (Distrib. Albany) ****:

Vintage 1954 restorations from the legacy of Polish maestro Paul Kletzki (1900-1973) who had benefited from sponsorship from the world’s two preeminent conductors, Wilhelm Furtwaengler and Arturo Toscanini. Kletzki remained very much his own man, however, developing a repertory that embraced composers as diverse as Bloch, Wagner, Verdi, Berlioz, Beethoven, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, and Mahler. For the latter composer Kletzki carried an innate sympathy, and he inscribed the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Das Lied von der Erde, utilizing two male voices (Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau and Murray Dickie) for his classic recording with the Philharmonia Orchestra.

A leisurely but rhythmically secure style marks Kletzki’s renditions, as we listen to the fine trumpet work and schwung in the Mahler Second Movement, we realize just how idiomatically and unself-conscious the passionate music proceeds. The laendler-esque trio section drips enough sweet cream to call up Bruno Walter, only the entries are more clearly defined. No eschewing the ironies of the third movement, Kletzki evokes a wry childhood impulse as it combines with an equally sassy cosmopolitanism that prefigures Kurt Weill. Kletzki cuts 24 bars from the last movement, which in retrospect seems needless, given our penchant for original editions and the urge to authenticity. The Israel Philharmonic, however, is in top form, from the seizing thrust of the opening battery and brass chords–hysteria in spades– through the pleas for transcendence that mark the final pages.

The Schumann Spring Symphony enjoys that “natural piety” of which Wordsworth spoke, and the IPO lends any number of impassioned voices to the pantheistic mix. I still miss Leonard Bernstein’s New York Philharmonic version for sheer ontological intoxication. Still, the Kletzki singing line is charming, the Schumann style idiomatic, with nice touches of rubato to keep us alert. The end of the first movement Animato strikes a wonderful march against the ecological philistines. The Larghetto is one of those close-your-eyes-in-bliss moments of Schumann ecstasy, with hints at the FAF motif in Brahms. Light feet, sweet militancy for the Scherzo and its two trios, the IPO woodwinds and cellos in swaggering, syncopated synchronicity. A tripping moto perpetuo for the last movement? The tympani part underlines jovial high spirits. Quicksilver figures from strings and responsive trills might be a nod to Mendelssohn’s fairy music, so deft and visceral are Kletzki’s players. An historic item of definite interest, eminently re-hearable.

— Gary Lemco

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