Otto Klemperer

Mozart: Symphony No. 40; Brahms: Symphony No. 2

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Mozart: Symphony No. 40; Brahms: Symphony No. 2 Review

by James Leonard

Neither the Mozart Fortieth nor the Brahms Second recorded in concert in the Berlin Hochschule für Musik with the Radio-Symphonie-Orchester on January 21, 1957, can beat out Otto Klemperer's studio EMI recordings of the same works made with London's Philharmonia Orchestra in 1956 and 1957. The Philharmonia's playing is much more polished and EMI's studio sound is much, much more refined. That said, however, for Klemperer's fans, this disc will be mandatory listening. Though it takes the Berlin Radio musicians a few bars to settle down in both works, their playing after that is technically more than acceptable. More importantly, they seem inspired by the man on the podium, delivering Mozart that is urgently dramatic and Brahms that is infused with sunlight and sweetness, but with a certain sharp pungency. Though anyone looking to get acquainted with Klemperer's way with Mozart and Brahms should surely check out the EMI recordings first, those who already know those recordings will certainly be interested in hearing these live performances.

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