The Klemperer Edition: Mendelssohn Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 - EMI (DMM), superb!
Jacket NM / LP NM / German pressing
This handsome LP, a superb collector's copy, from EMI (ED 29 0579-1, German Electrola pressing, large dog semi-circle label / DMM · Direct Metal Mastering, stereo) features Otto Klemperer and the Philharmonia Orchestra's wonderful accounts of Felix Mendelssohn's Symphonies no. 3 in A minor Op. 56 "Scottish" and No. 4 in A Major Op. 90 "Italian", both taped at EMI's Studio No. 1 Abbey Road, London in 1960, the former on 22 January and the latter on 15 February. Walter Legge was the producer (Walter Jellinek did co-produce the "Scottish") and Douglas Larter was the engineer.
These are glowing, atmospheric performances with the Philharmonia on top form, the sound of demonstration quality, and here preserved in their most desirable pressing.
Wrote the critic T.H. in his review for the September 1985 issue of The Gramophone:
"These performances turn out to be the exact opposite anyone might expect from Kiemperer. With his reputation for deliberate tempos I expected him to be at home in the Scottish Symphony but probably not to have the light touch much of the Italian calls for. In the event the main part of the first movement of the Scottish is too slow to be any sort of allegro and misses the mood of the piece by quite a way; and while the scherzo's deliberate tempo may be justified by the vivace being marked non troppo (which does allow the very clean playing it gets) and the slow movement is done well, with the greatest attention to orchestral detail, the finale is again pretty slow and certainly lacking in any Sort of brio and the final coda is slow in a way that was evidently still the fashion in the early 1960s and I hope has completely been changed nowadays into something that is a jubilant macst 050.
"The Italian, however, gets a splendid performance. I like the opening tempo enormously—not the frequent kind of frenzied speed (the result of orchestras these days being able to play it that way), but broad enough to allow the sweep of its sunny opening melody; and at the end he pays attention to the often neglected direction of poco a poco accelerando, though the acceleration does Start rather suddenly. The middle movements are obviously intended to be as different as possible; yet the andante con moto never plods, while the con moto moderato, going very swiftly, is beautifully phrased and never sounds hurried. Since the final Saltare/lo goes with great zest, the performance as a whole is to be recommended, especially since the recording has excellent soft playing and the performance is everywhere very good.
These symphonies were originally differently coupled, but both together at a bargain price and very well transferred make an obviously good 'buy'."
Incidentally, there are superlative liner notes on the reverse side of the jacket, printed in English only, by William Mann.
The gradations of condition I use are as follows: MINT, Near-Mint, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.
The condition of the jacket is near-MINT. There is some minuscule bumping/wear at corners, as well as some slight instances of creasing, but that is all. There are no owners' markings, bends, seamsplits, or other defects, and the album remains solid, bright, glossy, and highly attractive – overall, this rates as a fine collector's copy.
The condition of the LP itself is near-MINT. Although the surfaces are not completely silent (and thus I have rated it NM vs. MINT), really this is a very fine copy and playback is superb. However, if you must have absolutely perfect surfaces, then please do not buy this LP. Overall, this rates as a lovely collector's copy.