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
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