Erich Kleiber

Beethoven: Fidelio Overture; Schubert: Symphony No. 9; Berg: Scenes from Wozzeck

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Even though these historical recordings will appeal most strongly to students of Erich Kleiber's conducting, the sound of this Medici Arts CD is clear enough that even casual listeners will be able to appreciate the performances. The recording of Ludwig van Beethoven's Fidelio Overture dates from January 7, 1956, and is the cleanest and best sounding performance on the album; if played at a decent volume, virtually all details stand out, and there is only a faint airless quality surrounding the Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester. The recording of Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 9 in C major, "The Great," and Alban Berg's Three Scenes from Wozzeck, featuring soprano Annelies Kupper, date from November 23, 1953, and naturally have less clarity than the later recording; but the orchestra is still remarkably full, colorful, and crisp in details; tape speeds are accurate and the monaural recording, while audibly compressed, is quite transparent and not at all distorted. Musically, these are valuable records of the closing years of Kleiber's career, the Beethoven coming a mere 20 days before his death. Collectors of important mid-twentieth century recordings should definitely acquire this disc, but newcomers who would like to make acquaintance with a major conductor of the time would do well to check it out, too.

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