Otto Klemperer
Chorus and Orchestra of the Hungarian State Opera Budapest
24 October 1948
Hungarian State Opera Budapest
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Heinrich der VoglerGyörgy Losonczy
LohengrinJózsef Simándy
Elsa von BrabantMagda Rigó
Friedrich von TelramundLászló Jámbor
OrtrudElla Némethy
Der Heerrufer des KönigsSandor Reményi
Vier brabantische EdleBela Hollay
Geza Lux
Gjozo Mally
Sandor Ilyes

Don’t write off this live 1948 Lohengrin (sung in Hungarian) as a mere curiosity. Yes, the sound is just so-so, and the singers are solid and involved, but not world class. What emerges through and through is Otto Klemperer’s imposing and vital podium presence. The orchestra plays with uncommon rhythmic and dramatic alertness, and the choral work is, for the most part, impressively disciplined. Listeners accustomed to the severe, slow-motion Klemperer recordings from the 1960s will be shocked at the conductor’s near-breakneck speeds at times. Even the spacious Act One Prelude and introspective moments in the third act Bridal Chamber Scene murmur with nervous energy. Note that the Klemperer Lohengrin once appeared on Hungaraton LPs, in slightly brighter sound, along with contextual annotations replaced here with a synopsis of the plot. If this recording’s appeal is destined to be limited to specialists, it fills an important gap in Klemperer’s operatic discography, and proves that the old man could be a dynamo in the theater.

Jed Distler

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Media Type/Label
Grammofono 2000, Line, Archiphon
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Technical Specifications
456 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 562 MiB (flac)
Sung in Hungarian
At the end of the Grail narration, the enthusiastic audience applauded Jozsef Simandy’s outstanding performance to force a da capo. Klemperer, who saw the musical flow interrupted, reacted angrily after the audience still did not want to end the thunderous applause by interrupting his conducting, turning around and shouting into the audience: “Frechheit!” (Impertinence!) and then leaving the orchestra pit. The audience shouted “Otto, Otto” and shortly afterwards he returned and conducted the opera to a close.