is a valuable three disc set devoted to the art of Erich
Kleiber and is released in memoriam, to mark the fiftieth
anniversary of his death in 1956. Kleiber collectors will
know that the conductor’s last big reissue bonanza was the
1949-55 Decca collection issued under the Original Masters
imprint in 2004 (Decca 475 6080- see review).
the performances in Tahra’s set fall within that recording
period and they reflect aspects of Kleiber’s musicianship
that one would have anticipated but still welcomed. The Linz Symphony
is unfortunately only a torso. Only the first two movements
are extant though the surviving Poco adagio has a
powerful sense of lyricism and depth. Coupled with it is
Beethoven’s Fourth Symphony in a highly impressive reading.
The sense of anticipation and tension is palpable and there’s
plenty of drive and drama in this Concertgebouw performance
to remind us of the conductor’s successful contemporary commercial
recordings with this orchestra. The Adagio is once again
a fount of expression, without exaggerated point making,
whilst the finale is buoyed up with considerable reserves
of energy. It’s certainly no strait-laced performance but
a freely expressive one.
the Fifth and Sixth symphonies are prominently featured in
the Decca box; there are in fact two recordings of the latter,
one recorded in Amsterdam, the other in London. The 1955
NWDR Fifth gets a trenchant but proportioned reading, powerful
and heroic and with an especially purposeful third movement.
The finale is rather more considered than the Concertgebouw
recording, and has a touch more space to make its points.
The Cologne Pastoral is, if anything, even better
at phrasal pliancy than the commercial readings. The way
Kleiber ushers in the violin entries in the Allegretto finale
is tenderer than I’ve ever heard from him. It’s certainly
the slowest finale I can recall from Kleiber; he usually
took it a good minute and a half quicker than the eleven
minutes in Cologne. The only real gripe concerns the orchestra,
which doesn’t get wind chording right, is subject to some
glassy sounding strings – quite possibly a recording phenomenon – and
sports a principal horn intent on emulating the dulcet strains
of the euphonium.
leads one to the Dvořák Cello Concerto with Janigro.
The principal horn returns to blight this performance with
his unwelcome presence. Still, there’s always Janigro, who
recorded the work commercially with Dean Dixon in Vienna
for Westminster. I’m not aware that this Tahra release is
the same performance as that enshrined on Archipel ARPCD0329
(see review) and which is dated very near to this one. The
timings are rather different for one thing. If it’s not the
same – and
I don’t believe it is - then Janigro and Kleiber presumably
gave repeat performances. The performance is only fitfully
convincing, as was the one on Archipel. There’s a rather
heavy, occasionally stop-start, profile to the whole thing.
And it lacks athleticism and frankly doesn’t plumb many depths.
Janigro was often a diverting player but he was not always
at his best in Romantic works.
a pendant we have the welcomingly anomalous – in the current
broadcast context - pre-War commercial recording of Liszt’s Les
Préludes with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. This
is vintage 1936, still sounding good, and is energetic and
driving. Finally we have two snippets of conversation. Dr
Friedrich Schanpp talks of his working relationship with
Kleiber. And we also hear Kleiber’s voice in a little speech
he made to the Cologne orchestra, recorded without his knowledge.
has compiled what they describe as a tentative discography,
which makes up the bulk of the fine booklet. There are also
full colour photographic reproductions of LP sleeve notes.
This is the kind of thing this company does so well. And
there are most certainly things here that will prove arresting
and exciting for the Kleiber collector.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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