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Discussion: Bach: Mass in B minor - Klemperer

Posts: 5

Post by Bach94 June 19, 2015 (1 of 5)
I just got this one in the mail today, together with the Gieseking. And I received the Saint Matthew Passion and the Schnabel a few weeks ago. Extremely disappointing, to say the least. I have all Japanese EMI Klemperer SACDs and single layer SACDs. They all sound great to my ears and on my gear. Most, if not all, were recorded in the same venue as those two works by Bach, and at comparable dates. These two new releases sound muffled and unnatural. I have compared them to earlier CD releases. The CD releases are admittedly usually worse, but not always. For example, the Benedictus is much easier to listen to on the first CD release than on the new SACD!

My feeling: too much noise filtering. I may be wrong on the identification of the cause, but there is a definite problem on these two releases. By the way, the Gieseking does not sound that great either (I still have to listen to the Schnabel) and the Karajan series issued by japanese Warner last year is slightly better than the CDs we got in Europe, but not much.

Two friends of mine listened to parts of these SACDs, and were also very disappointed.

To sum up:

1. I would not recommend these releases to anybody. And I will not buy the next ones (mono recordings of Beethoven symphonies by Klemperer).

2. I would definitely like to know what went `wrong'.

3. May our negative reactions alert the people who are mastering these SACD releases.

So sad the opportunity to finally do justice to these recordings in the digital era was wasted that way.

Post by gammarayson June 20, 2015 (2 of 5)
I have also just received this issue, and my reaction is the very opposite of yours! I have this performance on LP, CD and now sacd, and for me, this is easily the best sounding version of this very great performance! I would recommend it warmly. I listened on Sennheiser HD800s and Hifiman HE-560s. I presume the remastering is the work of Simon Gibson and his team, although there are no credits on the sleeve notes. I have never understood the criticism some of their work has received here, but I suppose we all hear differently.

Post by Bach94 June 20, 2015 (3 of 5)
I am glad your liked this release. I am not listening with headphones, so this has perhaps something to do with our difference in appreciation. I would like to add, as a response to your last comment on the Abbey road masters, that I have many SACDs and single layer SACDs which have been mastered at Abbey Road and which I like very much. Take for example Mahler 7 and the complete Beethoven symphonies which were recorded by Klemperer for EMI in Kingsway hall i.e. at the same location as the Bach pieces. The SACD of Mahler 7 (rec. in 1968) and the single layer SACDs of the Beethoven symphonies (rec. in the late 50's) sound great to me, and they sound markedly different from the two Bach releases. The same goes for the (stereo) Mozart symphonies. That's also why I suspect something `better' (read, more to my taste) could have been done with the Bach recordings (rec. in 60 and 67, if memory serves). But as you say, to each his/her own!

Post by gammarayson June 20, 2015 (4 of 5)
I too have quite a few of the Klemperer sacds, Missa Solemnis, Brahms Requiem and a handful of the symphonies which also sound fine, but are the only versions I own, whereas the Bach recording I have known for nearly 40 years(!) and was my introduction to the work. By the way, you mention the Mahler 7th, which is a rather controversial performance. Do you recommend this version? Both artistically and sonically? I have the Mahler 2 and 9 which are superb, particularly the latter. I ask, because the 7th has long been out of print, but seems to be available again.

Post by Bach94 June 20, 2015 (5 of 5)
I think the SACD of Mahler 7 by Klemperer is very good technically. It certainly tops all previous incarnations of this recording on CD and HQCD. As for the interpretation, it is definitely unique, and very slow! I love it, but I understand how people could hate it, and I also love much quicker readings, for example Inbal's remarkable second recording of the piece for Exton, the one with the TMSO (there are actually two different SACDs of this second Inbal recording, and both sound very good).

Mahler makes me always think of Elgar! So, if the powers that be at Warner are reading this conversation, could you give us at some point down the road the Elgar symphonies by Boult and/or Barbirolli (preferably stereo recordings)?

To turn to Bach Passions and the B-minor Mass: I was introduced to these works some 40 years ago by the well-known recordings by Karl Richter. I wonder if Universal or Esoteric have ever considered SACD reissues.