Otto Klemperer

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 7

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These live recordings by Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Orchestra were made in the fall of 1957 at London's Royal Festival Hall as part of a Beethoven concert series that yielded performances of the full cycle of symphonies and concertos. Testament's reissue of the Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 36, and the Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, is primarily of interest to connoisseurs of legendary recordings and admirers of Klemperer's Beethoven. So since these performances have much to offer for their musicality and historical importance, even the average listener can gain something from hearing them. Bearing in mind that these recordings are monaural and marred by audience noises and boxy sound quality, it takes attentive listening to get past the faulty reproduction, but the cogent interpretations and the exciting playing found on this disc will reward those who have enough patience. Klemperer takes both symphonies at fairly brisk tempos, and though they are by no means as fast or sharp as some contemporary conductors like to take them, they are far from sluggish. The Philharmonia's playing is clear and reasonably detailed in the limited reproduction. No one should regard these as the only recordings of these pieces to own -- with so many excellent all-digital recordings available, why settle for mono? -- but for those who collect multiple versions of Beethoven's symphonies, this CD is worth consideration.

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