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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony No.39 in E flat, K543 [24.47]
Oboe Concerto in C, K314 [17:38] German Dance in C, K600 no.1 [1:56]
German Dance in G, K600 no.5 [1:38]
German Dance in C, K602 no.3 [1:49]
German Dance in C, K605 no.3 [1:46]
Symphony No.36 in C, Linz, K425 [24.26]
Erich Kleiber rehearses Symphony No.39 [5:26]
Lothar Faber (oboe)
Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra (now WDR Symphony Orchestra, Cologne)/Erich Kleiber; Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra/Erich Kleiber (K425)
rec. 20 January 1956 - WDR Studio 1, Cologne Radio; 31 December 1955 - Stuttgart
Symphony No.39; German Dances previously available: DECCA ACL 226
MEDICI MASTERS MM011-2 [79.56] 

When I first played this disk I was disappointed and nearly didnít bother playing the rehearsal track. I decided to persevere and finding it to be recorded at a low level I turned up the volume. Suddenly the sound came alive and I immediately replayed the disk at this higher volume level; the performances jumped out of the speakers! Now I can tell you that here is a fine disk indeed. 

Erich Kleiber was always at home in the classics - something he passed on to his son. His Beethoven and Mozart is a joy; his way with this music is so compelling. Take K543 for example. The first movement Allegro is in a languorous three-four and it is very difficult to get exactly the right tempo so that the music flows and has a forward momentum. It doesnít feel ďthree-fouryĒ - that is, like a minuet or similar - more the medium paced one-in-a-bar Mozart so obviously wants. Kleiber hits precisely the right tempo and the music flows as Iíve seldom heard it. The finale sparkles and the rehearsal shows Kleiberís insistence on good ensemble and how he communicates what he wants from his players. Throughout, his tempi are scrupulously adhered to; no speeding up when the music becomes more impassioned and, similarly, no slowing down when Mozart takes a rest from his argument. I especially enjoyed Kleiberís easy going account of the Andante con moto. How often do we hear this kind of approach? 

Lothar Faber is a fine and sensitive soloist in the Oboe Concerto - a lovely work which is still not played as much as it should be. Kleiber is a perfect accompanist. They obviously have a good relationship and the music-making is delightful. The recording starts more quietly than the preceding Symphony ends but the volume is soon subtly increased - by the engineers. Although Faber is placed a little forward the balance between soloist and orchestra isnít compromised. 

When conducting in Buenos Aires Ė he enjoyed a thirty year working relationship with the Teatro Colůn Ė Kleiber met and, within 24 hours, became engaged to, Ruth Goodrich. On her birthday he included a set of Mozartís German Dances in his concert with the Colůn orchestra. Thereafter, they referred to the Dances as the Birthday Dances and Kleiber programmed them in his concerts every year, as near to Ruthís birthday as possible - a lovely story for all romantics. These performances are, perhaps, rather too hard-driven to give real pleasure. K605 No.3 is raced through in a most wilful fashion Ö with far too enthusiastic sleigh bells and a very boozy sounding posthorn! 

This recording is taken from Kleiberís final concert with the Cologne Radio Symphony orchestra. One week later, on 27 January - the 200th anniversary of Mozartís birth - he died at the Grand Hotel Bolder in Zurich. 

The performance of the Linz Symphony is in a similar vein to that of the 39th Symphony: strict tempi, clear lines, the music moving forward logically and with more than sufficient high spirits in the finale.

The recorded sound isnít great, but I am sure that 1955 and 1956 radio sound wasnít as good as Stephan Schmidtís remastering of the original tapes makes them sound here. The Cologne concert is much better than the Stuttgart, which is muddled and thick. Here, the woodwind, only oboes and bassoons in the Linz Symphony, are fairly audible and they occasionally raise their heads to be heard. The horns, trumpets and drums could be playing next door for all the contribution they are allowed to make. Itís also sad to report that the Stuttgart Orchestra isnít anywhere near as fine a group of players as the Cologne Orchestra.

All in all, though, despite my reservations about the German Dances and the Stuttgart sound, this is a super disk with, for me, Mozart just as he should be: big, bold and forthright.

Bob Briggs



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