Even the Adagio in Klemperer’s legendary account sounds resolutely dry-eyed and casual. Klaus Tennstedt had an Indian summer of justified adulation from both audiences and orchestras in Britain, Europe and the US after a life in former communist Germany, but his career was nobbled by inner demons and crippling self-doubt.
This performance is partly a disappointment. The first movement is played straight with little light and shade and a distinct lack of involvement. The big cataclysmic moments simply aren’t big or cataclysmic enough. Similarly, the scherzo, shorn of every repeat, lacks the demonic quality with which Klemperer, superb here – with virtually every repeat – imbues it. However, in the adagio, Tennstedt is superb. At almost 19 minutes, he’s as slow as Furtwängler and just as profoundly moving, especially in the way he floats the sublime second subject.
The finale is similarly fine at the other extreme, with one of the most energised readings I’ve heard despite not sounding at all rushed. The London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus are in good form and the soloists are all fine. The sound, despite being recorded in the Royal Festival Hall, is also bright.