It is interesting to note how our views converge and differ, even with the same conductor and same composer ! Like you, I find the critical acclaim afforded to Klemperer's EMI recording of Bruckner's Sixth Symphony mystifying - and here I know from reading elsewhere, that Ralph Moore rates it higher than I do ! For me, what really puts that recording out of court is his treatment of the great second movement - Martin makes the point that Klemperer "refused to smooth what is coarse", but the conductor's unwillingness here to explore the music's wonder and mystery with a tempo that is swift and devoid of feeling, rules him out completely for me. Incredibly, you can seek out live recordings with the Concertgebouw and the BBC SO from a couple of years prior, where he is even faster ! And yet, coupled with the aforementioned BBC SO radio relay, is a version of the Bruckner Te Deum which sees old Otto shaking the gates of Heaven with the best of them !
Sticking with Klemperer for a second longer, I do find him hugely fascinating - and perhaps we all should with a conductor who is simultaneously responsible for the faster Mahler Resurrection Symphony on record (with the Concertgebouw in 1951), as well as the slowest (with the New Philharmonia in 1971)! In my collection is a live recording from Bavaria of him conducting the Hebrides Overture as if it was composed by Wagner and seemingly flicking the "V" at the historically informed brigade ! And yet no other conductor, in my experience, evokes the elemental majesty of the North Atlantic waves smashing onto the rocks of Fingal's Cave quite like Klemperer does here. Martin mentions how Klemperer's approach is perhaps better suited to Beethoven than to Bruckner, but the live Seventh Symphony from the Royal Festival Hall in 1970 sounds as if he is driving a Ferrari permanently stuck in first gear. And yet five years earlier, there is a Beethoven Fourth live with the Berlin PO, where the results are very different. Now I like my Fourth to be fleet and light - too many conductors sound slow and ponderous to my ideal and Klemperer is even slower still. And yet, the music-making here glows with a sense of wonder that is quite magical - my own conclusion was how could something be so "wrong", yet sound so right !!
So I am grateful for the reviewers on MW who do so much of the heavy listening for me, even if I occasionally doubt their own sanity with some of their conclusions ! If Ralph Moore finds Luisi's recording of the Bruckner Fourth to be the least satisfactory of the many he has listened to, then it probably isn't going to be the best I have heard either, even if he and I part company with our views on the Nelson recording of the same work from Leipzig. But I'm sure Mr Moore would be the first to admit that on another day, or another hi-fi machine, he may react differently. As you have done with Karajan's Bruckner Fourth - I daresay had you listened to Karajan's mid-seventies recording on DG (made in a hurry, apparently, with the odd bit of Korstvedt-inspired cymbal crash here and there), you may have concluded differently. But the earlier recording on EMI is made with considerable care and dedication which, for me, places it amongst the very best in this fascinating work. And so for me, on the basis of Mr Moore's review, I'm happy to stick with what I have and am not going to rush out and buy Luisi's recording ! And judging by the number of recordings in your collection, Dieter, nor should you (or Martin Tousignant) either !!
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