Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

(1756 - 1791)
Symphony No 35 in D "Haffner", K385. 18.16
Symphony No 36 in C "Linz", K425. 26.58
Symphony No 38 in D "Prague", K504. 25.52
Overture: Die Zauberflöte, K620. 7.19
Philharmonia Orchestra.Otto Klemperer.
*Recorded: 3/64 (Magic Flute); 7/56 (Linz); 3/62 (Prague) Kingsway Hall, London. 10/60 (Haffner); Abbey Road Studios.EMI. The Klemperer Legacy CDM 5 67333 2 9 [78.56]

EMI have released a further all Mozart disc in its "The Klemperer Legacy" series which like the others in the collection have been remastered under the 'art' system. (This is 24 bit processing and stands for Abbey Road Technology). This latest disc has three "named" symphonies and an overture.

In my comments on the previously covered disc with earlier symphonies, as a reviewer I found a real risk of repetition with my listening notes being full of the same phrases on many occasions. For instance - clarity of inner parts, excellent overall balance, good weight to the strings, magical woodwind playing, precision on entries, seamless, cohesive and so on. All praise you notice. So what does a poor unfortunate chap do next when he's presented with a further batch of Klemperer and the Philharmonia playing Mozart? He tries even harder to say something different (or perhaps hopes you haven't read the earlier piece).

The disc has the three symphonies in chronological order, We must remember that by 1962 when the last of these recordings was made, Otto Klemperer was nearing eighty years of age and very frail. It's almost a minor miracle that the recordings were made at all, not that the results were as they were.

In his Haffner Symphony (No 35), Mozart deleted two movements of a previously written piece, made further minor emendations and produced this little masterpiece. The opening Allegro points the way to Klemperer's approach to each of the three later works here which is as one would expect - serious, weighty and pointing towards Beethoven. The real skill comes from being weighty without being ponderous or losing the lightness inherent in Mozart. The delightful Andante - yet again one blesses the value of splitting the violins - the Minuet and Trio (wonderful balance), and a marvellously shaded Finale complete the opening symphony.

The Linz Symphony (No 36) was one of Mozart's "written against the clock" pieces -there were so many in his short life - but the listener would never know. A slow introduction prefaces a steadily paced opening Allegro. The gently rocking Adagio that follows shows the quality of the original recording with its clarity in the inner parts. The Minuet and Trio point to rustic revelries rather than an elegant drawing room (lovely playing from the wind section) and in the Finale - played with tremendous dash - the trumpet parts add interesting variety. The exquisitely shaded contrasts between sections yet again show what a superb orchestra the Philharmonia was in its prime.

Unusually, there are three movements only (missing is a Minuet) in No 38 - The Prague. There is a dramatic slow introduction leading to the opening Allegro, a beautifully shaped reading in which the near-perfect balance shows off the strong contrapuntal element. The middle movement Andante is a deeply expressive, quiet interlude - Mozart at his most elegant and graceful - leading to a perfectly paced Finale full of lovely touches - like the interplay between the bassoon, flute and oboe - and the 'rightness' of the whole.

The overture from The Magic Flute completes the disc. A filler in timing terms, perhaps, but given a robust performance from full orchestra its beauties are clear.

A thoroughly enjoyable disc, then, and one for repeated listening. Lovers of Mozart and admirers of the Otto Klemperer's dedicated approach to music from a lifetime's study should not miss this one.

Finally, again one must pay tribute to the EMI production and studio teams of the time. What they put on to disc are treasures and current remastering techniques show how much we owe to their approach of good balance and avoidance of 'highlighting' in recordings.

*Regarding the recording dates. The dates printed with the disc are incorrect. Following investigation the corrected dates in this review have been supplied by EMI.


Harry Downey


Harry Downey

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