Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6
Otto Klemperer, The Philharmonia Orchestra
You know, some of the first classical music I ever heard must have been Beethoven’s 5th -and, guessing from when I was 5 or 6 years old, it’s quite possible that I was listening to one of these Klemperer recordings (though I doubt my father would have had such good taste, to be honest). Anyway: despite -or perhaps because of- that early introduction, I’ve never really loved Beethoven’s music. He’s only just about scraped into my Last.fm top 20, for example. But… but… there is only one symphony in all of classical music that has physically cheered me up when I was once in the middle of a bout of deep gloom or other: and that’s the sixth. And this recording of the sixth symphony has reminded me of that very distinctly, very tangibly. It is a gorgeous recording of it. It was mentioned as David Hurwitz‘s choice for ‘ideal 6th’ several months back, which is why I went and bought this complete Klemperer cycle, but by golly it’s extraordinary, with or without his endorsement! It’s warm, jovial, tuneful and perfectly paced. What utterly staggers me, however, is that it was recorded in 1957, in glorious-sounding stereo and with a ‘sound stage’ to die for: the violinists sound like they’re playing for me personally, in my study! Pause for a moment at that news: recorded before (just!) the Russians launched Sputnik; before the first man in space; before man landed on the Moon; before Watergate… several years before I was born, in fact… and yet it sounds as if it was recorded yesterday. I am astonished at the technical wizardry that has brought these recordings back to life. I can only point you to Amazon and tell you: you have to own this cycle.