Christian Thielemann

Brahms: Symphonie Nr. 1; Beethoven: Ouvertüre Egmont

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If you interpretively start out where Otto Klemperer left off, where does that leave you to go? That's the dilemma facing conductor Christian Thielemann in this 2007 coupling of Beethoven's Egmont Overture and Brahms' First Symphony with the Münchner Philharmoniker. There's no denying that Thielemann is a superb conductor: technically, he's beyond reproach, and temperamentally, he's well-suited to the central Austro-Germanic nineteenth century repertoire. But on the one hand, Thielemann's tempos here seem too weighty, his textures too dense, his colors too blended, his rhythms too deliberate, and his attitude too flinty for the music, while on the other hand, his interpretations lack of the gravitas, dignity, urgency, and nobility that distinguished Klemperer's performances of the same works. While Deutsche Grammophon's sound is smooth and creamy and the Münchner Philharmoniker's playing is powerful and passionate, these performances are distinct disappointments from a conductor who had previously made so many fine recordings.

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