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Bach, Rameau, Handel, Gluck, Haydn Box set

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Audio CD, Box set, May 7, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Otto Klemperer's death, EMI Classics pays tribute to the incomparable conductor with the release of an extensive edition of 11 luxurious yet affordably-priced boxsets. Three new sets devoted to Mahler, Bach, Rameau, Handel, Gluck & Haydn and 20th Century Music are coming out this May. Otto Klemperer had a remarkable career as a young man but it was at the age of 70 that he started a series of recordings that would not only establish him as an internationally renowned conductor but provide EMI with a catalogue of recordings that became and remain touchstones.

This 8-CD collection contains the solo orchestral recordings that Klemperer undertook of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He recorded the Bach Orchestral Suites twice, the first in 1954, these appear on CD for the first time, and in 1969 whilst the recording of the Brandenburg Concertos date from 1960. Of Handel, he recorded No, 4 of the set of six Concerti Grossi Op. 6 in 1956.

The Classical period is represented in this collection by Franz Josef Haydn. In all Klemperer recorded 8 of his symphonies - 6 from the set written for Salomon's London concerts, the one-called Oxford, supposedly written for the time he received an honorary degree from its University and the delightful No. 88. These recordings were made over the period from 1960 to 1971.

The works by the other two composers contained in this box are arrangements. Gluck composed his opera Iphigenia in Aulis in 1774 inspired by Euripedes's last play written between 408 and 406BC, the year of his death. Richard Wagner made his arrangement at the end of 1846/beginning of 1847 in Dresden and it was this that Klemperer heard when Gustav Mahler conducted it in 1907 just a few weeks short of his 22nd birthday and this would serve as an inspiration for his entire career.

The work by Rameau was transcibed by Klemperer himself in 1967 and is a Gavotte in A minor with six doubles or variations taken from his Nouvelles suites de pieces de clavecin (c.1728). It was first performed with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in June 1968.

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Philharmonia Orchestra, New Philharmonia Orchestra
  • Conductor: Otto Klemperer
  • Audio CD (May 7, 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 8
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B00BK40QWM
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,529 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Part 1: BACH
This box opens with one of Bach's most inspired creations: the Overture from Suite 1 in Klemperer's 1969 stereo recording.
The music is improbably yearning and tender.
Aside from Koussevitzky's ancient Boston Symphony 78s, Otto Klemperer is the only conductor to have recorded Bach's Four Orchestral Suites with a full symphony orchestra.
If that's what you are looking for, this is the only game in town
The music responds well to this treatment.
Apart from the 2nd Suite, this is Bach's fullest orchestration: Strings, woodwinds, brass and tympany.

Klemperer left two recordings of the Bach Suites: 1954 mono and 1969 stereo.
Both are in this box.
The first was praised by the critics, the second universally panned for its slow tempos.
Each Suite consists of a 10 minute French overture (slow-fast-slow), followed by a series of dances.
In the stereo remake, the French Overtures are wonderfully grand and imposing, but the dances fall flat.
This is not a problem with the mono recording.
I actually prefer the stereo for the Overtures (40 minutes total), mono for the dances.

The Brandenbug Concerti (1960 stereo) are played by a chamber orchestra drawn from the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Modern instruments, no baroque ornamentation, flutes in the 4th Brandenburg (though the Philharmonia flutes do a pretty good imitation of recorders).
Its the best of its kind.
I prefer it to "authentic" recordings.

There is a ringer in the Second Brandenburg.
Adolf Scherbaum was not a member of the Philharmonia Orchestra.
He was a Musik Professor from Germany, the world's foremost exponent of the "piccolo" trumpet (not a true baroque trumpet, but it could play the high notes).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kirk List on August 15, 2013
Format: Audio CD
...Haydn symphonies which receive excellent performance. The two exceptions are #s 92 and 95. They came too late in Klemperer's life and are quite ponderous, akin to his Cosi Fan Tutte (see my review). The remainder sound like full orchestra versions, c.f. Jeffrey Tate's with the ECO
or Neville Marriner's with the ASMF. Tempi are not as brisk as those in versions by Eugen Jochum and Colin Davis, but they generate sufficient forward motion. As usual with OK, they possess extreme clarity and striking wind playing. #98 is a bit more
earthbound- eminently listenable but outgunned by Szell/Cleveland and Leitner/Capella Coloniensis.

#s 88, 100-102 and 104 (with important outer movement repeats) are among the best ever

2. Bach Brandenburgs and 1954 Suites. Of the 1954 Suites, #s 1 and 2 are a bit lighter and livelier than #s 3 and 4.
#3 I think requires more vigor in the outer and quicker movements. I prefer Van Beinum/RCOA and Szell Cleveland in #3 and Richter/Archiv in #4-the best in his set. The Brandenburgs are sufficienly exuberant, with moderate
tempi but truly great clarity. Flutes replacing recorders do not annoy. The BCs are not quite as infectious/joyful as the sets
of Leppard/Philips and especially Ristenpart/Accord

Gluck Overture: This was a favorite on lp. In this case the lumbering pace conveys the power and grandeur of a colossus. Probably one either loves or hates it. The Handel concerto grosso is good but I prefer the Richter/Archiv and Leppard/Philips.
Only the 1968 Suites disappoints, but one can still enjoy the 1954 versions.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Kouroukis on January 22, 2014
Format: Audio CD
You can't imagine how many years I waited to finally see these recordings re-issued...

In the early 2000's one had to regularly frequent used classical cd shops, and hunt down on amazon US, UK and Japan and even ebay to find one of the old 'Klemperer Edition' incarnations. And when one found one of the more obscure ones, boy...did you have to shell out the big bucks! I remember paying $45 for the rare Haydn set, and close to $80 for the ultra-rare Brandenburg set! Those were the glory days of collecting. What a steal nowadays!

Since a few years ago, EMI released the Klemperer's vigorous and wonderfully deep and rugged Haydn set...but only now can we followers of that 'grand old man' rejoice to have in our acquisition his grandiloquent readings of The Brandenburg Concertos and Orchestral Suites! Thanks to EMI for making it so easy to collect Klemperer again. (I'm going to limit this review to Klemperer's Bach only...even though everything else contained is well-neigh definitive).

- In the plethora of recordings of Bach's Brandenburgs and Suites...which are all splendid and give endless interpretive insights, I find Klemperer's recordings standing out above and beyond them all. (The Brandenburgs were rec. in 1960 and the Suites I'm referring to are the late recordings dating from 1969).

Klemperer takes no prisoners when it comes to his renderings of them. Words that come to mind are: jaw dropping, warming, lavish, profound, caressing, beautiful, scrumptious, epic, simple, full of meaning.

Taking them at a historically slow pace from today's "eat-on-the-go" standards, he beautifully coaxes out all the simple, profound statements of these pieces...which can be heard clearly and strongly...
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Bach, Rameau, Handel, Gluck, Haydn
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