Otto Klemperer

Brahms: Haydn Variations; Schubert: Symphony No. 1; Strauss: Till Eulenspiegel

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Aficionados are constantly on the lookout for lost, previously unknown contributions of the greats of a given medium. The unknown Van Gogh painting, the long-lost Bach manuscript, even the unheard audio recordings of a great orchestra or soloist. In this case, we are given an unreleased performance of the great conductor Otto Klemperer leading the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. Unfortunately, simply because something has heretofore been undiscovered does not automatically make it good. Even under Klemperer's leadership, the orchestra is unable to produce a satisfying, acceptable performance befitting the great conductor's legacy. Balance is a serious issue; the timpani plays with such raucous thunder that virtually every other instrument in the orchestra is wiped out. Intonation is spotty at best and some of the wind chorales in the Brahms are difficult to listen to. The intricate and precision brass and wind playing that typically distinguish superior performances of Strauss' Till Eulenspiegel is also absent. With all of these difficulties with the orchestra, it is difficult to focus on any musical ideals that Klemperer -- who should be at the center of this album rather than the poor orchestra -- might be trying to impart. This album is definitely best suited only for die-hard Klemperer fans who might be able to overlook the performance of the orchestra.

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