Otto Klemperer

Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 8

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Here, once again, are Otto Klemperer's recordings of Bruckner's Fourth and Eighth symphonies made in 1954 and 1957 with the Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester. Classic performances of tremendous strength and immense determination that have been kicking around the LP and CD catalog for years as pirated recordinga, they receive here yet another release in this 2007 two-disc set from Italy's Great Opera Performances label. The question is not "How great are the performances?" Among his Austro-German contemporaries, Klemperer's Bruckner ranked just below Furtwängler's in power and profundity, and these live recordings from Germany in the mid-'50s have as much momentum and much more drive than his later studio recordings made in England in the mid-'60s. In other words, any dedicated Bruckner fan -- and, really, is there any other kind of Bruckner fan? -- will have to hear them sooner or later.

No, the question is "How are the transfers?" And the answer is: "Essentially indistinguishable from previous transfers." Whatever production and restoration work Laura Caravaggio did for her line of credit, it seemingly didn't include altering in any appreciable way the raw but honest sound of the mid-'80s pirate recordings of the same performance. That's fine. Klemperer and the Köln's Bruckner Fourth and Eighth should always be available, and if you haven't already heard these performances, this set is definitely worth hearing. But if you have already heard these performances, this set is wholly superfluous.

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