Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

by Otto Klemperer


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Beethoven: Symphony No. 9

Otto Klemperer recorded Beethoven's "Ninth Symphony" at least seven times, and this version, with the Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchestra, made January 6, 1958, is not one of his better efforts. Here, Klemperer's control of the orchestra is at times questionable, and the orchestra doesn't seem completely comfortable with the conductor. Too frequently, the intonation is doubtful, throughout, the attacks are hit and miss, and the orchestra often seems to be holding on to the musical line for dear life. Naturally, since this is a Klemperer "Ninth," there are glorious passages; the transition back to the main theme in the opening movement is shattering, for example, and there are pages in the slow movement as lovely as any ever recorded. Despite the unevenness of the performance, the cumulative effect of the closing movement's relentless progress is ultimately awe-inspiring. The soloists here, especially Hans Hotter, are superb. The live monaural radio sound is at best functional and at worst irritating. For the hardest of hardcore Klemperer fans, the disc includes a bonus track: two minutes of Klemperer rehearsing the chorus for the finale. This segment is particularly interesting in that Klemperer leads by example. Accompanied by a pianist, he sings -- vocalizes might be a better word -- the choral parts. His performance is amazing: vehement, articulate, expressive, and at one point, apparently demented. Listeners who want to hear Klemperer at his best in the "Ninth" should investigate other versions. His canonical studio "Ninth" from November 1957 with London's Philharmonia Orchestra and his five well-known live "Ninths." These include performances with the Concertgebouw in May 1956, the Philharmonia from London in November 1957, the Vienna Philharmonic in June 1960, the Philharmonia again from London in November 1961, and the New Philharmonia, captured on film in October 1964.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/28/2009
Label: Medici Masters
UPC: 0827565047321
catalogNumber: 31-2

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