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Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 (Ot


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1. Mozart: Masonic Funeral Music
2. Beethoven: Symphony No. in D Minor: Allegro ma non troppo, un poco
3. Beethoven: Symphony No. in D Minor: Molto vivace
4. Beethoven: Symphony No. in D Minor: Adagio molto e cantabile
5. Beethoven: Symphony No. in D Minor: Presto
6. Beethoven: Symphony No. in D Minor: Presto-Rezitativo "O Freunde, nicht

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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Celebrating Klemperer June 10 2005
By Michael Brad Richman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
For the most part, I have resisted buying titles in the BBC Legends series -- even us serious collectors have to draw the line somewhere, or we'll never listen to anything more than once! However, I have made a few exceptions such as Van Beinum's London performances of Beethoven Symphonies 2 & 7, Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony and Mussorgsky/Ravel's "Pictures at an Exhibition" with Carlo Maria Giulini (see my reviews for both), and this title preserving The Otto Klemperer Memorial Concert. On January 14, 1974 at Royal Festival Hall in London, the New Philharmonia Orchestra celebrated the life and music of the great conductor by performing Mozart's Masonic Funeral Music and one of his signature pieces, Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Good friend and esteemed colleague Rafael Kubelik was handed the baton for this tribute. The Mozart is lovely and sets the tone for the "Choral," which is played at a quicker pace than Klemperer may have chosen himself, particularly in his later years. But there is something about Kubelik's choice that for me honors Klemp's past readings and celebrates the man's life as a whole. It isn't the greatest account ever and the stereo sound is average, but in all it was a worthwhile purchase. I will certainly continue to pick and choose through the BBC Legends catalog for that rare concert event that captures my imagination, particularly when it is such an historic occasion as this.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Not a perfect Ninth (or recording), but not bad at all March 16 2015
By Stanley Crowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The London critics apparently didn't much like Kubelik's conducting on this occasion -- the Klemperer memorial concert (with Klemperer's old orchestra) in January 1974. On the basis of this recording, I wonder if they might not have been a bit harsh, though if they were expecting some kind of transcendental experience, they didn't get it. Mind you, I don't see Klemperer's 1957 Ninth as transcendental either, but that's beside the point. I'm glad to have this recording, though there are strengths and weaknesses.

Weaknesses first: the recording doesn't do justice to the orchestral texture, and if you have heard Kubelik's studio recordings of Dvorak and Mahler for DGG, you'll know that he had a nice feel for texture, even as he kept the music moving. Whether he was as successful with the New Philharmonia as he was with the BPO and the BRSO in realizing the texture of this piece, we'll never know, but the strings in particular get a raw deal, I think. Kubelik does keep things moving, though, albeit at a steady rather than frenetic pace. The weakness in the performance that bothered me was the rather tame scherzo -- it needs a bit more sizzle than this, and at Kubelik's pace, it tends to outlast the interest of the musical material.

Strengths: All the above said, the recording does quite well by the chorus and the soloists. You can hear the individual parts (I was listening on decent Bose headphones), and the sopranos don't end up sounding shrill or distorted. The choir sounds pretty sizable -- we're not in the realm of "historically informed performance" here. Norman Bailey is a wonderful bass soloist, and Werner Hollweg does very well too, both sounding in a good relation to the overall aural picture. The women sound good too, with Margaret Price secure and undistorted when it matters. All in all, the final movement comes over quite well, and indeed begins very strongly. It's got energy and good humor, and I'm happy to settle for that. The thing I liked best about the performance was the third movement -- it's taken at a good pace, and yet the phrasing is eloquent and the control of dynamics excellent. It's one of these pieces of music that doesn't need to be lingered over with a patina of laid-on "expression" to be effective. Kubelik gives the impression of just letting it unfold very naturally, although in the moment, there's nothing routine or detached about the playing and shaping. I like to think Otto would have been fine with it.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A famous flop by Kubelik turns out to be pretty ordinary after all March 11 2011
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Here is a chance to hear and possibly redeem a famous failure, On the death of Otto Klemperer, whose Beethoven was considered the standard in London, the choice of Rafael Kubleik wasn't a natural -- for one thing, he wasn't particularly noted or distinguished in Beethoven. For whatever reason, the critics were not pleased, and a shadow hung over Kubleik's reputation (I'm recalling tis form memory, so anyone who stands closer to the event should feel free to correct me). As reissued here, the sound is good for the Masonic Funeral Music, taken at a flowing pace considerably slower and more funereally than Klemperer's recording of it, and holds up well enough for the massive Beethoven Ninth.

The 'choral" Sym. is the main event, and I imagine the negative reaction came form Kubelik's moderation; he is neither fast nor slow, heavy nor light, deeply committed nor superficial. Yet you could attribute the unflattering side of each pair if what you wanted was Klemperer (or Beethoven) storming the heaves. I've read good reviews of Ninths from Previn, Leinsdorf, Maazel, Wand et al. that are just as indifferently performed. But Kubelik was the wrong man in the wrong place; he redeems himself in a live reading on Orfeo that I found quite powerful. (In any event, BBC Legends offers only a single recording from a conductor who must have appeared in the UK dozens of times.)

Things pick up for a lively Scherzo, although I do't think it lives up to the marking of Molto vivace. For a conductor famed for his slowness, Klemperer actually followed Toscanini's lead in the great Adagio, with a much faster pace than Furtwangler would have recognized. At 16 min., Kubelik certainly isn't pausing for meditative effect, so perhaps the shade of Klemperer was smiling that night, at least once. Still, there's a lack of intensity and commitment that makes this movement as nondescript as the rest. Despite spurts of excitement, the finale is nothing special, either the best thing being a good vocal quartet, as follows:

Margaret Price, soprano
Yvonne Minton, mezzo-soprano
Werner Hollweg, tenor
Norman Bailey, bass

Praise goes especially to the outstanding Norman Bailey, Britain's best Wagner bass, for his powerfully delivered solo -- you feel that Wotan is in the house. Too bad that the miking is a bit distant and shrill for the vocalists. The chorus is so woolly-sounding that not a word of German can be clearly made out. IN all, I'm sure that tis was an evening best forgotten, and BBC Legends' decision to exhume it wasn't a nice gesture.


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