Symphony No.6 in F, Op.68 (Pastoral)
Bavarian State Orchestra
Recorded live on 7 November 1983 at the Bavarian State Opera
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: May 2004
CD No: ORFEO C 600 031 B
Duration: 40 minutes
Carlos Kleiber’s stature and elusiveness make this a ‘hot’ CD indeed. Apparently this is the only time that Kleiber has conducted the Pastoral (and likely to remain so!). With Bavarian State Opera’s master-tape not having survived two decades, a cassette copy made for Kleiber’s son was utilised for this CD. The sound isn’t bad and certainly captures what sounds a memorable occasion, although engineer Christoph Stickel’s mastering audibly employs some no-noise processes to ‘clean’ the sound and with it there is some discoloration and flaking of ‘real’ tones that is disappointing. It’s most noticeable in the first movement; thereafter things improve.
The performance is the thing though – propulsive, unsentimental, glowing, dramatic, a sense of burgeoning discovery (intensified by no repeats being observed) and, maybe, an ultimate predictability regarding tempo and rhythm that mitigates against it as a document to be listened to that often. Kleiber occupies the Toscanini/Karajan axis in this music, yet he avoids ruthlessness and sheen, so there is a gut honesty here that actually makes this a viable interpretation for having no ‘baggage’.
Nearly 4 minutes of ecstatic applause is retained (separately tracked), which is included in the above timing. In some respects this is an appendix release, yet for Kleiber die-hards and those absolutely attuned to Kleiber’s, fleet, meticulous and vital view, it could be a central recommendation.