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SCHUBERT: Symphony No. 8
'Unfinished', Symphony No. 9 'The Great'.
Philharmonia Orchestra Otto
EMI CDM567-338-2 78m
Klemperer's stately vision of these two symphonies is a refreshing alternative.
Other more excitable readings often fail to touch the deep current of passion
that runs under these works. I still retain a marked preference for Karajan's
sensitive BPO version of the 'Unfinished' but Klemperer's sturdy reading,
now refurbished in magnificent sound, goes a step further in dramatic expression.
The Philharmonia strings play with a committed passion and the whole orchestra
shakes the foundations in the big passages. The Andante is soul-searching
and perfectly paced, with the divided violins effect coming splendidly to
the fore. This is one of the finest recordings of this symphony available
With the 'Great' I am not really so sure of the approach. Having a marked
affection for Istvan Kertesz's lovingly fleet account with the VPO and Solti's
similarly mercurial reading with the same orchestra, I could not occasionally
understand some of the marmoreal tempi applied here. Another recording which
to me is one of the best available is Karl Bohm's 1977 live relay with the
great Staatskapelle Dresden last available on DG Galleria. Bohm's tempi really
let the music flow unlike this occasionally stately interpretation. There
are benefits in the harrowingly autumnal Andante con moto and the Finale
also takes on a really stately mood but the end result is ultimately a bit
too pompous. However admirers of this great conductor (and I am definitely
one of them) will want this version. EMI's remastering is superb and the
sound breathes with unprecedented clarity. The stamp of greatness is on the
Klemperer vision of these symphonies.
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