Otto Klemperer conducts Bach, Rameau, Handel, Gluck, Haydn [8 CDs]

Notes & 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 boxets. Three new sets devoted to Mahler, Bach, Rameau, Handel, Gluck and Haydn and 20th Century Music are coming out this May. Otto Klemprer had a remarkable career as a young man but it was at the age of 70 that he started a series 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 once-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 Euripede'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 transcribed 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.


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