Thursday, August 26, 2010

Klemperer - Mahler-Symphony No 7, Klemperer Symphony No 2



I had a revelation on first hearing this recorded performance of Mahler's Seventh Symphony conducted by Otto Klemperer. It certainly differed from the headlong and frenetic Leonard Bernstein recording. With so many critics then hailing the Bernstein as definitive, how could this antithetic 100-minute marathon be valid, with its tempi being so seemingly glacial? Well, tempi aren't everything; the music that the performance conveys, is. Not halfway through the first movement, the realization that Klemperer had heard so much more in Mahler's writing than had anyone else, and was making ME hear those same things, more so than in any other performance committed to records, struck me and shocked me. Mind you, this is the movement where Klemperer is "accused" of handling matters most differently from the "norm" that so many had accepted.

I should not have been surprised, for Klemperer often offers insights into familiar pieces such as Beethoven's Eroica Symphony that are lacking in performances by other conductors. Give it a careful listen. You'll hear and revel in the music like you never have done before. That's if you can FIND the recording, that is. Long out of print from EMI, this has become a cultist item of sorts, with asking prices for used copies and online auction prices in the hundreds of dollars. You MIGHT just have to settle for a secondhand LP copy!--En.N.


Ape, scans


  1. Only took me 4 days to download it, but what a sublime revelation! Thank you!

  2. Hello.

    Could you please reupload parts 4 and 6. FileFactory returns with a message "Sorry, the server hosting the file you are requesting is currently down for maintenance. Please check back soon". I've been trying, but unsuccessfully.

  3. Hello

    FileFactory is only showing 4 files:


    Are there files missing? Can't download the sequence - Fritz says that there should be parts 4 & 6????


  4. I am preparing a new upload. Please check back in 48 hours.

  5. Thanks for the re-upload, Otto – much appreciated. Everything works fine now ;-)

    I only knew of this record by reputation so I was very keen to listen to it.

    Well this is a curate’s egg and no mistake. Klemperer’s view of the symphony is nothing short of perverse. Considering that he worked alongside Mahler in his youth it is difficult to fathom the reasoning behind such a very personal interpretation for a composer that he respected. With a total running time of over 100 minutes this must be the longest ever on record (If not in the concert hall). Even Horrenstein – who is no slouch when it comes to Mahler – brings it all back home at under 74 minutes. Quite a difference. Klemperer’s first Nachtmusik is nearly 8 minutes longer than Horrenstein – is it really ‘allegro moderato’ at this speed?

    In the long run, it’s all down to personal taste I suppose. It certainly makes one listen to the music with a fresh pair of ears – much in the same way that Bernstein did with Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique (DGG).

    My personal favourite among recordings is still the live 1950 broadcast by Scherchen and the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (Orfeo). Similarly exaggerated but more cohesive as a whole.

    Great sounding recording never-the-less with the New Philharmonia on top form and a superb production from Peter Andry and Robert Gooch working in the fabulous Kingsway Hall.

  6. Thank you for your comment. I got to listen to Bernstein's "Pathetique" now. A pair of "fresh new ears" is what I need sometimes :-)

    Thank you again


  7. To each his own, I guess. I did not imprint on the Bernstein from Columbia Records, as did many of my generation. Who could blame them? Bernstein was the only recording in decent sound at the time, and for many people the only one available.

    Why did I not imprint on Bernstein? Because to me, his recording made me feel that Mahler's Seventh was a third-rate piece of music. For instance, I heard a caricature of a circus band opening and concluding the last movement; it all gave me the impression of being much ado about nothing.

    I did not resume my exploration of Mahler's Seventh for several years. By then there were several new records, among the the Klemperer. I gained far more insight into the Symphony from these other records, of which Klemperer's, as each other of them, did let me "hear" into the music in a way different from each of the others.

    Perhaps after all these years I have imprinted negatively on the Bernstein from Columbia, but I really can't listen to it any more without my mind wandering, much as when watching a TV show where goofy characters dominate and an intelligent story line is lacking.

  8. Thanks for the post, Otto! Unfortunately, Part 4 is missing. Could you re-upload it? Thank you very much.

  9. Hello, I've just discovered your blog and I have to congratulate you on providing a wonderful resource where classical music fans can share their knowledge with each other. Your comments on Klemperer's Mahler 7 are very intriguing and I'm looking forward to hearing it.

    Could you please re-upload Part 4 since it is missing. I'm eager to hear this wonderful account of the 7th--a symphony that I, like many others, have had some difficulty in connecting with.

    Thanks again!!! I will continue to follow your blog with great interest! :)



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