MOZART Symphonies Nos 33, 34 and 40; Masonic Funeral Music.
Philharmonia Orchestra and
New Philharmonia Orchestra / Otto Klemperer.
EMI Classics The Klemperer
Legacy CDM5 67332 2 [ADD] [78' 57"]. Recordings made between 1957 and
These performances have often been described as distinguished. But they belong
to an old school, the heavy Teutonic style that Klemperer so admired. As
a result grace and charm are sacrificed. And the tempi are too slow.
The sheer magic of Mozart's onward drive is lost.
Take the splendid Symphony No 34 in C, K338, long a favourite of mine.
The opening allegro is merely an andante. It is pedantic and
lack-lustre. Such things as the tripping dotted rhythms in the second subject
are also lost. We have an ox-cart not a fleeting gazelle. There is no elegance
or charm. The performance also seems cautious. It is certainly uneventful.
Compare it with Sir Roger Norrington's lively, witty, colourful and compelling
rhythmic drive. Klemperer adds almost five minutes to the complete score.
The charming andante central movement is too slow as well. Again,
what is missing is that essential Mozart grace. And, in addition, Klemperer
lingers at times further hindering the music's onward progress. There is
an abject lack of contrast and, at times, you think the music is going to
The finale, if played well, is one of Mozart's finest foot-tappers
bouncing along with an infectious swagger. But not here.
Klemperer's Mozart is not the Mozart that I love.
The Symphony No 40 in G minor is a popular piece but I prefer the
G minor Symphony known as Number 25. If you want an outstanding
performance of Number 40 go for Jeffrey Tate. Klemperer's performance
has no style other than his own. The slow movement borders on agony; it is
so dull. Everything is so laboured.
The Minuet fares better and the finale, which I have always thought has a
'silly' main theme, does not come off. The 'silly' theme is made more laughable
If you like slow, stodgy Mozart this is for you - but not for me!