BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 4 in E flat "Romantic." Symphony
No. 7 in E. Symphony No. 8 in C minor
This Bruckner disk is unique in two ways. First, it is a Blu Ray Audio Disk, which makes possible extended p, laying time—we have three of Bruckner's symphonies in surround sound on a single disk. All have been issued before, 4 and 7 on Sony, No. 8 on Farao. No. 4 was recorded in 2007, No. 7 in in 2010 and No. 8 in 2009. This performance of Symphony No. 4 was mentioned on this site (REVIEW). The early version of this famous symphony is intriguing but not very satisfying, quite different from what most listeners know as the "romantic" symphony—the scherzo is totally different. Symphony No. 7 is the version everyone knows, and the mighty Eighth is played in the usual Nowak edition. Nagano's approach is big-scale in the last two symphonies, but overall these cannot match the glories of many competing recordings conducted by Bernard Haitink, Eduard Van Beinum, Claudio Abbado and Wilhelm Furtwängler, to mention only a few. Audio on the Nagano performances is broad and rich, a bit undefined in low bass. It is unfortunate the surround audio is not of the caliber heard on Nagano's magnificent ArthausMusik video of Strauss's An Alpine Symphony, a sonic blockbuster by any standards (REVIEW).
Here's another issue in the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra's home series, a performance of the Mozart Requiem with distinguished soloists and the Netherlands Radio Choir, from recent concerts. The quality is what one would expect is there and audio, as always in this series, is outstanding. But why just the Requiem? More than a half hour of CD playing time is unused—surely a waste.
We certainly do get maximum-plus on the latest issue in the RCOA's Horizon series. CD information states the total playing time is 88:19, but actually i is 82:20. As in previous issues in this enterprising series, we have a wide variety of new music including two Dutch composers: Kas de Vries and Richard Rijnvos. Also we have works by German composer Detlev Glaner,and Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. The program opens with British composer James MacMillan's orchestration of the anonymous Hodie puer nascitur in which the orchestra, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, is joined by the Huelas Ensemble directed by Paul Van Nevet. Markus Stenz conducts Clanert's Insomnia, David Robertson leads De Vries' Provinence. Susananna Mäikki conducts Antarctique, and the most substantial work (26:24) on the disk, Saariaho's Circle Map. All of this is challenging music, creating often delicate sonorities, all superbly played. The audio is outstanding, well capturing the warm acoustics of the Concertgebouw. The premium price for these Horizon SACDs is well justified.
R.E.B. (July 2014)