Reviews

GHCD 2319 – Paul Kletzki – 1946

Lucerne Festival Orchestra – Paul Kletzki (Recorded: Luzern, 5.-7. September 1946)

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Fanfare September/October 2007

Despite his frequent generosity to younger colleagues, Furtwangler is better remembered for the professional windfall that he inadvertently provided to Karajan after World War H. The older conductor was suspected of involvement with the Thousand Year Reich-most ironically so, since Furtwlingler was a courageous humanitarian, while Karajan joined the Nazi Party to further his career. Less known is another beneficiary of the older conductor’s troubles, Paul Kletzki, whom Waiter Legge chose as a Furtwiingler substitute for previously scheduled recordings with the Swiss Festival Orchestra. The Polish-born Kletzki was to become a studio staple, reliable and musicianly, with a pleasant work attitude. When his career ended and the PR machine that keeps maestros’ names before the buying public moved on, he was relegated to oblivion. But while he wasn’t one of the great ones, like Furtwiingler and Toscanini, both of whom he admired, he was still a solid per­former capable of producing fine results upon occasion.

This Brahms Fourth is successful, on the whole. The opening Allegro non troppo and the Andante moderato are of a piece in their treatment. Both are on the fast side for the period of record­ing but flexible in tempo, with a refined sense of shading and a broad range of dynamics. Kletzki folds the winds and brass into the strings, who produce a surprisingly rich sound for this orchestra. (The Swiss Festival musicians were good, but their strings sound like first-raters here.) The scherzo is again fast and feels lighter of step, thanks largely to buoyant rhythms and a general refusal to slow down for anything save the brief horn trio–which is awkwardly managed. The fast variations that begin the fmale are very quick, precise, and clear in texture. Unfortunately, the slower variations that follow are glacial in their pacing, and the brass aren’t especially distinguished. Matters improve when the original tempo is reestablished towards the end, but the impetus has been lost.

The Schubert is distinctly less attractive. Despite the view stated in the liner notes that Kletzki found “the emergence of Romanticism in the music of Biedermeier Vienna-not in Brahms’s Vienna of sixty years later,” this Eighth’s first movement is more subdued in its employment of rhetorical device than several well-known recorded versions by Kletzki’s contemporaries and elders, such as Mengelberg, Furtwiingler, Klemperer, and Knappertsbusch. Compared to this group, Kletzki is less rhythmically supple, more precise in his articulation of canonic figures: a classicist, and a stodgy one, at that. There are some fine moments in the second movement, such as the woodwind solos, paced and blended with sensitivity. At other times, however, the bass line is turned into a relentless, four-square tread that trumps other voices.

Peter Reynolds’s re-mastering is discreet, leaving a moderate level of surface hiss in place while carefully editing scratches and thumps out of the sound. Get this for the Brahms, and let’s hope that there’s more in the vault on the same level.
Barry Brenesal


MusicWeb Tuesday June 19 2007

Kletzki’s reputation as an orchestral trainer has rather militated against him. His years of wandering also precluded symphonic attachments; when, in the years of relative stability, he was appointed to positions of some eminence – Liverpool, Dallas, and Berne – he never stayed long. Perhaps his longest attachment was the three-year spell with the Suisse Romande. Still Walter Legge recognised him as an important figure and Kletzki’s captured here directing the Philharmonia in Schubert as well as the Lucerne Festival in Brahms. Both performances were committed to disc in 1946 and both reflect well on Kletzki in terms of architectural sagacity and the encouragement of singing tone.

The Brahms is a sane, intelligent and unexaggerated reading. It’s not the kind of performance for those who favour either the granitic intensities or the linear asceticism of conductors steeped in more metaphysical codes of engagement. For though Kletzki does broaden where necessary in the slow movement he avoids the metrical and the coagulatory with equal aplomb. Similarly the finale has a few metrical displacements but these are never intrusive, never threatening to the architectural fabric of the score. There is a touch of lower string congestion from time to time, which I would ascribe not to Kletzki’s inability to insist on separation of strands, but to the recording set up in Lucerne.

These qualities are reflected in his Schubert, another reading of polished control and eloquence. His phrasing is affectionate and he pays attention to detail once again encouraging a strongly singing tone from the strings – he’d been a violinist and distinguished orchestral leader in his youth. His conducting remains lucid and imaginative. The slow movement is measured. Many years later he left behind another recording of the symphony with the USSR State in 1968, a recording revivified on Melodiya 11221152. Here he accepted the Andante’s con moto instruction with greater alacrity than he had back in 1946 with significant tempo alteration. Nevertheless the same traits of taste and line are evident in both performances. Kletzki was, at his best, a warm and engaging interpreter who lacked rostrum narcissism to his great advantage.

I like these transfers much more than Guild’s previous Kletzki release where he acted as accompanist to Malcuzynki in Chopin and Rachmaninoff concertos. Side joins are good and the transfer team has left higher frequencies much more intact. The results are commendable.
Jonathan Woolf


Classical Net Monday March 05 2007

Historical Recordings from the Collections of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich

The Swiss label Guild has tapped into a glorious resource which has hitherto lain undiscovered for a long time, the Zentralbibliothek in Zürich with its rich archive of historical recordings that can now be enjoyed by the discerning enthusiast.

The first recordings which Guild have chosen feature the rather underrated Polish conductor Paul Kletzki who has had a few releases on Testament but not much more besides. These strong, big boned readings of Brahms Fourth and Schubert’s ‘Unfinished are extremely welcome especially the former with its old world romanticism and some fine playing from the Swiss Festival Orchestra in Lucerne.

Although one cannot really put these recordings at the top of the pile, the detailed program notes and top notch remastering preserve music making of the highest quality and it is thrilling to hear the newly formed Philharmonia Orchestra at their very beginnings in 1946. One hopes for more rare recordings from this source including some off the beaten track repertoire.
Gerald Fenech


Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 30.12.2006, Nr. 303, S. 48

Zürcher Kultur

Erinnerung an Paul Kletzki
Zentralbibliothek Zürich

tsr. Vor zwei Jahren hat die Zentralbibliothek Zürich – die eingeschlafene Tradition der Neujahrsblätter wieder belebend – damit begonnen, zum Bächtelistag sogenannte Neujahrsstücke herauszugeben. Mit dem Neujahrsstück 2007 wird zugleich die Reihe “Historical recordings from the collections of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich” begründet, mit der die ZB in loser Folge historische Aufnahmen aus ihren Beständen präsentieren will. Die Compact Disc enthält zwei Einspielungen aus dem Jahr 1946 mit dem Dirigenten Paul Kletzki, dessen Nachlass sich in der ZB befindet. Kletzki, ein Pole jüdischer Abstammung, war in der Nazizeit aus Deutschland in die Schweiz emigriert und leitete unter anderem das Berner Sinfonieorchester und das Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Die Einspielung der Vierten Sinfonie von Johannes Brahms mit dem Schweizerischen Festspielorchester in Luzern vom September 1946 hatte Kletzki dem Umstand zu verdanken, dass Wilhelm Furtwängler, der eigentlich dafür ausersehen war, nicht dirigieren durfte, weil sein Entnazifizierungsprozess noch nicht entschieden war. Als die Aufnahme mit Kletzki ein Erfolg wurde, durfte der Dirigent anschliessend für EMI mit dem Philharmonia Orchestra London Franz Schuberts “Unvollendete” einspielen. Die über 50-jährigen Tondokumente wurden vom Label Guild einem sorgfältigen Remastering unterzogen, gleichwohl muss das CD-verwöhnte Ohr beim Anhören einige Abstriche machen. Brahms’ Vierte dirigiert Kletzki rhythmisch straff, wählt aber eher langsame Tempi. Obwohl er die Bläser keineswegs unter den Tisch wischt, stehen die Streicher meistens im Vordergrund. Als Resultat überwiegt ein üppiges, gelegentlich etwas schwerfälliges Klangbild, wie es für die damalige Zeit nicht untypisch war. Bei Schuberts Achter geht Kletzki mit den Tempi viel freier um, ja setzt das Tempo, neben der Dynamik, als Hauptgestaltungsmittel ein.
Neujahrsstück auf das Jahr 2007, CD aus der Reihe “Historical Recordings from the collections of the Zentralbibliothek Zürich”, Paul Kletzki (1900-1973) dirigiert Brahms und Schubert, Fr. 12.- am 2. Januar, danach Fr. 15.-.

959236, NZZ , 30.12.06; Words: 316