Otto Klemperer

Bruckner: Symphony No. 7; Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Prelude

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For the top spot in the great Bruckner Seventh sweepstakes, there are those who'd bet on Wilhelm Furtwängler's broadly paced and tonally radiant accounts and then there are those who'd go with Otto Klemperer's hard-driving and earnestly striving accounts. For Furtwängler fans, his two canonical live recordings with the Berliner Philharmoniker, the searing 1949 recordings and the blazing 1951, each have their vocal adherents. For Klemperer fans, on the other hand, his heroic 1960 studio recording with the Philharmonia of London for EMI has always been the one to get. But for sufficiently motivated Klemperer fans, there were also two other, earlier live recordings each of which has its merits. There was his 1958 recording with the Berliner Philharmoniker and this 1956 recording with the Bavarian Radio Symphony. Both are more dramatic than the later studio recording, with noticeably quicker slow movements. But while the Berlin orchestra plays better than the Bavarian orchestra, the Bavarian musicians sound more committed to the conductor and the music than their Berlin counterparts, and the result is a grittier, more determined performance that has always been mandatory listening for dedicated Klemperer fans. And with warmer, clearer, and quieter sound than previous releases on myriad Italian pirate labels, this 2008 Medici Arts issue should be the standard edition for years to come. The inclusion of Klemperer's jubilant Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg with the Bavarian Radio Symphony recorded live for Italian Radio in Turin in 1956 is a welcome bonus.

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