The concert of 26 September 1971 was never intended to be Klemperer’s farewell to ‘live’ musicmaking. In his 87th year this conductor was keen to remain an active music maker. He had just overridden EMI’s choice of Fiordiligi in his new Così fan tutte recording (he wanted, and got, Margaret Price), approved Lorin Maazel as guest conductor of the New Philharmonia, and was keen to be present at player auditions. For 1971/72 he planned his first-ever performances of Mahler’s Eighth and Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht and told EMI that he wished to record the Verdi Requiem, Weber’s Euryanthe, Sibelius’s Fourth and Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld. After a deal of negotiation (and some intrigue with Deutsche Grammophon) sessions for Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge, Mozart’s Serenata Notturna, Brahms’s St Antony Variations and a complete Mozart Entführung aus dem Serail were agreed. And yet, according to Otto Freudenthal, the Swedish-born pianist and composer who assisted closely in (and played for some of) Klemperer’s musical activities, “he was not interested in recordings; he had no feeling for that at all. Recording sessions were just rehearsals for concerts”. 1971 proved a busy year. Così was recorded and performed. Klemperer began learning Hebrew, advised Rafael Kubelík not to become music director of the Metropolitan Opera (he did, but only for 6 months), conducted Mahler in London (the Resurrection Symphony for the 60th anniversary of the composer’s death) and Bach and Mozart in Jerusalem, and (according to Freudenthal) was “always working on the score of his opera Das Ziel”. (Plans to record it were eventually shelved at Klemperer’s own request). In September he came to London and recorded Haydn’s Oxford Symphony – he had never performed the work ‘live’ and was nervous, but sessions went smoothly – and Mozart’s K.375 Serenade. An ensemble of young players from the New Philharmonia performed his String Quartet No.7.
From the booklet Mike Ashman, 2008
Mono Recording: 26 September 1971, Royal Festival Hall, London