Sunday, 18 November 2012

Otto Klemperer

Yesterday evening, I really took to the conducting of Otto Klemperer. There are many other celebrated conductors: Furtwängler, Toscanini, Kleiber, Karajan, Bernstein, et al. However, listening to Klemperer conducting the Philharmonia in Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique, I marvelled at the clarity of the orchestral parts, at the exemplary internal balance of the orchestra, at the prominence of the woodwinds, the antiphonal left and right first and second violins, the lack of eyebrow-raising tempo or dynamic distorions – all trademarks of Klemperer's approach to conducting. I have never marvelled so constantly at Berlioz's avant-garde orchestration.

This spurred me on to listen to Klemperer's recording of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde, one of the few Mahler works I actually enjoy, despite the high-stress opening song. Klemperer's soloists are Christa Ludwig and Fritz Wunderlich, and the performance is an evergreen classic. Most admirable and an excellent 64 minutes of great music making despite the recording having been made over the period 1964 and 1966 due to the Walter Legge upheavals at the time.

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