Day 39: Symphony No. 6 in A Major (Klemperer)

My “office” this morning is Baker Book House where I am enjoying a delicious blueberry-lemon scone, a cup of Nicaragua coffee, and the peace that comes from spending time in a massive book store early in the morning.

As I’m sipping and munching, I am listening to Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A Major (WAB 106), interpreted by German-born conductor and composer Otto Klemperer (1885-1973).

Prior to this Bruckner project, I had never heard of Otto Klemperer – although I had heard of his son, actor Werner Klemperer, most famous for his portrayal of Col. Klink, Kommandant of Stalag 13 in the 1960s TV series.

The first time I heard Otto Klemperer was on Day 23, Symphony No. 4.

Then again on Day 31, Symphony No. 5.

On both of those days, I posted background information on Klemperer and his orchestra. I shan’t do that again today. If you want to know more about the famed German Maestro, let your mouse do the clicking over to one or both of those days.

Go ahead.

I’ll wait.

Ready?

Okay…

Here are the objective aspects of today’s recording:

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A Major (WAB 106), composed 1879–1881
Otto Klemperer conducts
Klemperer used the “1881 version, ed. Haas,” according to the liner notes
New Philharmonia Orchestra plays
The symphony clocks in at 54:10
This was recorded in London, England, on November 6, 10-12, 16-19, 1964
Klemperer was 79 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 57 when he finished composing it (the first time)
This recording was released on the Warner Classics label

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four movements. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 6 in B A Major), from this particular conductor (Klemperer) and this particular orchestra (New Philharmonia Orchestra) is as follows:

I: Majestoso…………………………………………………………………………………………………………16:55
II: Adagio. Sehr feierlich (Very solemnly)……………………………………………………………14:42
III: Scherzo. Nicht schnell (Not fast) — Trio. Langsam (Slowly)…………………………..9:23
IV: Finale. Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (With motion, but not too fast)………..13:50

Total Time: 54:10

Okay. Now, here are the subjective aspects of today’s recording:

My Rating:
Recording quality: 4
Overall musicianship: 5
CD liner notes: 2 (typically thin Warner Classics fare – very short essays about Klemper and Bruckner)
How does this make me feel: 4

“Huzzah!”

So far, Otto is batting 1.000.

As I found the previous Klemperer recordings, this performance is also a joy for my ears to behold.

The recording does not sound 53 years old. It sounds rich, vibrant, clear, and – for want of a better word – new.

If you read the background information I previously posted about Klemperer, you know that he was alive when Bruckner was alive. I find that fascinating, for some reason. For awhile, Klemperer breathed the same air Bruckner did. Wow.

As for this recording, every moment has something of value for me, from Majestoso onward.

Seriously, even the Adagio was gripping – even more so than Janowski’s interpretation yesterday.

And the Scherzo? Fuhgettaboutit. Marvelous.

I’m surprised by how good this performance is, despite its age. The combination of Klemperer, a very fine orchestra, and a brilliant recording technician seems to have resulted in something lovers of Bruckner’s music will be able to enjoy for many decades to come.

Highly recommended.

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