Sunday, August 4, 2013

Columbia SAX 2276-77 Klemperer's Beethoven "Choral"

SAX 2276-77

Beethoven "Choral"

Otto Klemperer, conductor

Philharmonia Orchestra

Pressing:  ER2, ER2

Condition:  NM

YAX 69-16
YAX 70-10
YAX 71-16
YAX 72-5

Performance: 8/10

Sound: 6+/10

Price range: $29-578 on popsike

Comments:  I tend to describe Otto Klemperer's Beethoven symphony recordings as ... monumental.  That is both in the sense that 1) they were and still are considered to be landmark recordings, 2) there can be characterized by a certain fortitude.  Tempos can at times be a bit slower than I'd like, especially when compared to modern interpretations by the likes of Barenboim, Vanska, Mackerras, and Chailly, but that aside, Klemperer always had something to say in his Beethoven.  I sometimes think that Klemperer, with his own life troubles, must've empathized with Beethoven, and perhaps it is that connection that is brought out in his Beethoven recordings.  This recording of the Beethoven 9th came on two separate LPs, with essentially one movement to a side.  In the fourth movement, we are joined by the Philharmonia Chorus and Aase Nordmo Lovberg (soprano), Christa Ludwig (mezzo-soprano), Waldemar Kmentt (tenor), and Hans Hotter (baritone).  Recording quality is pretty good, though my system was not able to clearly resolve the loud choral passages.  I wonder if things would be even better on a first pressing, but those are quite expensive (the second labels are cheaper but expect to spend at least $100 for the pair).  EMI has reissued Klemperer's Beethoven cycle several times over the years, and to mark this year's Klemperer anniversary, they re-released his Beethoven symphonies and overtures in a nice boxed set which can be purchased for $30-40.  That may be a suitable alternative -- and one which I opted for -- to trying to pick up all of his Beethoven symphonies on LP.  Expect to pay at least $50 for a decent copy of a first pressing of each album.  Second pressings can be had for less.


  1. I find these Columbia second pressings to be quite risky since all five of mine are disappointing (I like my two ED3, "Magic Notes" pressings.) Concert Classic SXDW3051 is likely a big dog pressing with a big sound which might work. SLS790 would likely be better. It is available in color stamp and black and white stamp pressings. I am keeping my eyes peeled for a color stamp, but I see a B&W press $19 delivered in the US on the net for those who can't wait. SLS788 which has all 9 Klemperer Beethoven symphonies and some overtures sold recently for $60 plus shipping in the color stamp pressing. I've got ASD 2561 Klemperer reissue, Beethoven Sym. 2, and it is quite nice sonically (a color stamp and it sounds way, way better than the aforementioned unfab 5 2nd pressings). I really like the performances.

  2. Yes, I've always wondered if the EMI postage stamp reissues of Klemperer's Beethoven symphonies are better than the originals. I wouldn't be surprised if they were similar or maybe even better. I've seen that boxed set. In fact, there is a copy for sale at a local record store, but I've passed up on it.

  3. Replies
    1. I'd have to check if they still have it. I think it was going for $100. The box is in VG condition, may have a tear on the side. The records are in near mint condition, I believe.

  4. Too much. It would be nice to get them all at once for a good price. Each of the Beethoven LP's has been put out on an individual ASD release like I have with the color stamp pressing. I'll just have to patiently wait for the LP's to fall my way for a good price.