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Face to Face. Otto Klemperer and John Freeman.

Discussion in 'classical' started by George J, Nov 27, 2019.

  1. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    A fascinating interview from perhaps fifty years ago.

    What is perhaps most surprising is just how direct Klemperer is. Not a word said to garner friendship, not a word untrue told either.

    Best wishes from George
  2. camverton

    camverton pfm Member

    Many thanks for the link; really enjoyed watching that and am now off to listen to his Bruckner 9.
  3. Barrymagrec

    Barrymagrec pfm Member

    8th January 1961 - I shall definitely have a look later - Thanks George.
  4. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Did you ever see him conduct?
  5. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Dear Mandryka,

    Strangely, ... almost. When I was spotted as being completely appreciating of classical music, I was taken to several concerts in Worcester and Malvern by various teachers who acted as host to a very young child. The first was with Harry Blech and the London Mozart Players at the Malvern Festival Theatre, where we were treated to Mozart's Harp and Flute Concerto and the Symphony in G Minor [no. 40] and other less famous little pieces.

    There had been a proposal to take me to the Royal Festival Hall for Klemperer's last ever concert. Beethoven King Stephen Overture, Fourth Piano Concerto [Danial Adni pianist] and the Brahms Third Symphony.

    My father did not want to pay for it ...

    It could have happened but did not.

    Best wishes from George
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2020
    mandryka likes this.
  6. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Look what I have found on Amazon.


    Philo Bregstein's very rare documentary film on Klemperer, and the [unique as Klemperer never before allowed film cameras anywhere near his rehearsals] film and recording of the last concert that I mentioned in the post above.

    Unfortunately I cannot afford the asking price, but as things go I might just order it and be damned. These rare films were released on VHS long ago, and I saw all this on youtube, but which have been deleted since.

    It might be the last DVD set I ever order!

    Best wishes from George
  7. jon l

    jon l pfm Member

  8. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    It would be interesting to see a film of him rehearse and conduct at the time of the last concerts. He’d been so ill, and the orchestra knew what he wanted so well, it’s hard to imagine what he actually did.
  9. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Dear Mandryka,

    I think that "his" orchestra certainly had a big understand of "what the old man wanted." He was affectionately called the "old man" for some time before this last concert.

    The real fascination would be the documentary film on the first DVD as far as I am concerned.

    Here is a film of Klemperer leading - conducting is not quite the word, perhaps - Beethoven's Seventh in 1970.

    The first movement is very slow, but it keeps its shape all the same. An example of a great orchestra working very hard to keep things going well under almost minimal direction. But watch [the second movement] from exactly fifteen minutes, and one can see that Klemperer is being deeply expressive of his musical wishes even with a minimum of demonstrative physical movements.

    But when you see his eyes in contact with the first violins in the very few first bars, you begin to realise the commitment of the band to a man who had saved their orchestra when Walter Legge tried to disband them five years before. I doubt we shall ever know the likes of an Otto Klemperer again. The world does not work well for such people today. Once a great eagle here we sadly encounter only an indomitable spirit of a great musician who by sheer determination overcame problems that would have ruined most others in a half-lifetime while in Klemperer we encounter the remains of giant even frail, in his eighties.

    Best wishes from George
    mandryka likes this.
  10. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    Extraordinary. I remember seeing Rattle conduct BPO in Wagner and from my point of view he seemed to just stop conducting at one point, he seemed to put his stick down and listened to the music! I bet there was quite bit of eye contact.
  11. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Great music making really is extra-ordinary. In my view music is the greatest of the Arts, though no doubt others would possibly disagree.

    Sometimes I think the role of the conductor [or sometimes the leader when there is no conductor] almost gets a sort telepathy going on. I am not especially credulous about the possibility, but sometimes orchestral playing does seem to indicate something of the sort.

    Of course any top orchestra would be able to play almost any music without a conductor, but it usually turns into a very nice, unexceptional performance rather than something magical. The exception for sure is the chamber orchestra where the leader is playing and has been in charge of the rehearsals.

    I love music, and find musical performance fascinating almost as another topic!

    Best wishes from George
  12. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    Well as we are living one day at a time, I sprung for the Bregstein film mentioned a little further up. When I say living, I do mean surviving the economic impact as much as the one per cent chance of being eliminated by the virus itself.

    Okay that it is irrational from a financial stand-point. If I can watch this again, it would less expensive than going to London to be at such a concert these days, even if concerts were still a real thing.

    Best wishes from George
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
  13. George J

    George J Herefordshire member

    The two DVsD plus two CDs with a fine hardback album book has arrived and I am really pleased with it.

    Would I recommend it generally? Probably not, unless you are interested in music making in Germany in the pre-1933 era, or the next half-century elsewhere ... and Klemperer's part in shaping it. A lot is in German, and the many valuable interviews come very quickly. You have to concentrate. You have to be able to read subtitles rather fast unless you are fluent in German. Watching and keeping up is essentially a matter of complete concentration.

    I wrote and removed a much longer review, which even ventured some opinion. I removed that post because I thought it presumptuous to write with some [supposed] authority when clearly I am not a recognised authority.

    I can safely say that for me the set is worth more than watching just the once.

    Best wishes from George

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