C1425. KLAUS TENNSTEDT Cond. Boston Symphony Orchestra: Symphony #8 in c (Bruckner). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-332, Live Performance, 20 Dec., 1974, Symphony Hall, Boston. [This glorious live performance beautifully displays the splendor of the Symphony Hall acoustic.] Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“What we have here is a release of a radio broadcast [which] comes with the weight of representing the ignition point of one of the great conducting careers of the last quarter of the twentieth century. For this to work as a recording though, particularly one that a listener will want to hear more than once, it must carry a musical impact for anyone unaware of that history, set against many successful recorded performances of this gargantuan symphony. It does. All of the Tennstedt qualities we expect are here - but that is not what makes it truly special. This is one of those performances where one can sense the palpable involvement of the musicians, their complete engagement in every phrase, and their total commitment to delivering something beyond the normal good, high-level Boston concert….In fact, we almost have a sense of an orchestra discovering the music as it is playing it. It is worth pointing out that in 1974 Bruckner was still a rarity in our concert halls, but the Boston Symphony plays the music with a completely idiomatic, natural feel, as if they were all from Linz….No matter how wonderful some moments are, Tennstedt’s sense of architecture, realized through tempo, dynamic, and harmonic relationships, is keen. Bruckner, more than any other major composer, can seem aimless if the conductor does not know how to shape the music, how to interrelate its parts. That is never a problem with this conductor. Above all there is about this performance something that one does not usually associate with the music of Anton Bruckner: a sense of theatre. Tennstedt relishes drama (much of his career was spent in the opera house) and this is Bruckner that manages to combine spirituality, genuine beauty, and theatrical sparks in equal measure….There is about this performance the sense of an orchestra that has fallen in love with its leader, a group of individual musicians who have totally subsumed themselves to the collective spirit that is willed by the man on the podium. The slow movement is so astonishingly beautiful that a few audience members actually applaud after it (and I am not unhappy that the applause remains on this disc - this really is an historic moment being documented). Slow movements in the middle of symphonies do not elicit applause in our era….The audience, which remains remarkably quiet throughout, was clearly deeply moved by what it heard. There is not one bar of this performance that sounds like an orchestra phoning in its notes. That concentration, and Tennstedt’s rare sense of shaping dynamic contours, continues right through the coda, which is rendered with perfect balances between the many voices, and a sense of exultation and triumph that may lift you out of your seat even listening alone at home, as it clearly did the audience. The degree of concentration is very, very special, and very hard to describe. But you will know it when you hear it.
St. Laurent Studios has done its usual superb job of restoration; the original broadcast sound was well balanced and rich, but with a bit of congestion at climaxes….music lovers are in their debt for this extraordinary release.”
- Henry Fogel, FANFARE
“Because he spent the beginning of his career in East Germany, Klaus Tennstedt was virtually unknown in the West until he was in his late 40s. But his international career took off after he left East Germany in 1971. From the time he made his first appearances in North America, with the Toronto and Boston Symphony Orchestras in 1974, he was regarded as an uncommonly probing, expressive conductor of works from the mainstream Romantic repertory.
Mr. Tennstedt was born in Merseburg, Germany, on 6 June, 1926. When he was 15, he enrolled at the Leipzig Conservatory, where he studied violin, piano and music theory. He also studied in Dresden during World War II, and he told one interviewer that after the firebombing of Dresden in 1944, he was in the fire brigade and assigned to dig bodies out of the rubble.
In 1948 he was appointed concertmaster of the Halle Municipal Theater Orchestra, where his father was a violinist. Four years later he began conducting the Orchestra, and he soon became its music director. In 1958, he became music director of the Dresden Opera and in 1962 he took over the Schwerin State Orchestra and the Schwerin State Theater. During the 1960s, Mr. Tennstedt had an active touring schedule in East Germany, and was a frequent guest of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Dresden Philharmonic, the Dresden Staatskapelle and the Berlin Radio Orchestra. He also performed in the Soviet Union and in Czechoslovakia. When preparing for a tour in 1971, Mr. Tennstedt found that his passport had been mistakenly stamped with an exit visa for the West. He left East Germany for Sweden, announced his intention not to return, and persuaded the East German Government to allow his wife to join him. In Sweden, he became the director of the Stora Theater in Goteborg and the conductor of the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm. In 1972, he became director of the Kiel Opera in West Germany.
Mr. Tennstedt's first break in North America occurred after the death of Karel Ancerl, the director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. When the Orchestra's managing director, Walter Homburger, went to Europe in search of a replacement, he read some reviews of Mr. Tennstedt's work in Kiel. After hearing him conduct Bruckner's Seventh Symphony, he hired him for a series of Toronto concerts in May 1974. He made his Boston Symphony debut later that year. [This outstanding performance, described as a 'once in a lifetime' event, in which Tennstedt gave the Boston audience and radio listeners a positively electrifying account of Bruckner's 8th, is still talked about in Boston to this day! After rehearsing, the Orchestra spontaneously broke into applause during a coffee break.]
Mr. Tennstedt became principal guest conductor of the London Philharmonic in 1977, served as principal guest conductor of the Minnesota Orchestra from 1979 to 1982, and returned to the London Philharmonic as its music director from 1983 to 1987. After he relinquished the post, he became the Orchestra's conductor laureate.”
- Allan Kozinn, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 13 Jan., 1998