Kletzki’s reputation as an orchestral trainer
has rather militated against him. His years of wandering also
precluded symphonic attachments; when, in the years of relative
stability, he was appointed to positions of some eminence – Liverpool,
Dallas, and Berne – he never stayed long. Perhaps his longest
attachment was the three-year spell with the Suisse Romande. Still
Walter Legge recognised him as an important figure and Kletzki’s
captured here directing the Philharmonia in Schubert as well as
the Lucerne Festival in Brahms. Both performances were committed
to disc in 1946 and both reflect well on Kletzki in terms of architectural
sagacity and the encouragement of singing tone.
The Brahms is a sane, intelligent and unexaggerated
reading. It’s not the kind of performance for those who favour
either the granitic intensities or the linear asceticism of
conductors steeped in more metaphysical codes of engagement.
For though Kletzki does broaden where necessary in the slow
movement he avoids the metrical and the coagulatory with equal
aplomb. Similarly the finale has a few metrical displacements
but these are never intrusive, never threatening to the architectural
fabric of the score. There is a touch of lower string congestion
from time to time, which I would ascribe not to Kletzki’s inability
to insist on separation of strands, but to the recording set
up in Lucerne.
These qualities are reflected in his Schubert,
another reading of polished control and eloquence. His phrasing
is affectionate and he pays attention to detail once again encouraging
a strongly singing tone from the strings – he’d been a violinist
and distinguished orchestral leader in his youth. His conducting
remains lucid and imaginative. The slow movement is measured.
Many years later he left behind another recording of the symphony
with the USSR State in 1968, a recording revivified on Melodiya
11221152. Here he accepted the Andante’s con moto instruction
with greater alacrity than he had back in 1946 with significant
tempo alteration. Nevertheless the same traits of taste and
line are evident in both performances. Kletzki was, at his best,
a warm and engaging interpreter who lacked rostrum narcissism
to his great advantage.
I like these transfers much more than Guild’s
previous Kletzki release where he acted as accompanist to Malcuzynki
in Chopin and Rachmaninoff concertos. Side joins are good and
the transfer team has left higher frequencies much more intact.
The results are commendable.