Brahms: Symphonies 1-4 - Klemperer

Brahms: Symphonies 1-4 - Klemperer

Warner Music (Japan)  WPCS-13242/4 (3 discs)


Classical - Orchestral

Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90
Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a
Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80
Tragic Overture, Op. 81
Alto Rhapsody, Op. 53

Christa Ludwig
Philharmonia Orchestra
Otto Klemperer

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Comments (1)

Comment by Joseph Ponessa - August 11, 2016 (1 of 1)

From October 1956 to October 1957, Walter Legge produced this esteemed Brahms symphonic cycle, with Otto Klemperer at his peak conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra, at the famous Kingsway Hall in London. The result was the crown jewel of Brahms recording, one of those sine qua non sets like Kertesz's Bluebeard, or Kleiber's Freischütz, or Solti's Ring, that not only outweigh any other recording but achieve the status of uniquely indispensable within the discography.

Warner Classics have done a marvelous job of transfer to SACD. As I listened through the set on the first cool afternoon in six weeks, my mind kept reminding me that the recording is two-channel stereo, while my ears kept trying to convince me that I was hearing some kind of surround sound. This is a testimony to Warner Classics for the transfer mix, to Walter Legge for the microphone placement, and to Otto Klemperer for seating the orchestra in his own, antiphonal way -- all of which taken together enhances the inherent polyphony of Brahms' compositional style.

Of the contemporary, multi-channel recordings, I believe the closest to achieving the "Klemperer effect" is Norrington's 2005 cycle with the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR. The phrasing and dynamics are very unlike Klemperer's, but the revelation of harmonies and disharmonies is much like. Both sets give me pleasure with their innate musicality.