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Mahler: Symphony No. 3

Mahler: Symphony No. 3

Live-Recording: Munich, Philharmonie im Gasteig, 15. – 17.06.2016


Gerhild Romberger (contralto)

Augsburger Domsingknaben, Frauenchor des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Bernard Haitink

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here

Gustav Mahler's Third Symphony still ranks today as one of the greatest and most powerful creations of the Late Romantic period. The huge symphony, longer and more monumental than the others and containing texts from the collection of poems by Clemens Brentano and Achim von Arnim entitled “Des Knaben Wunderhorn”, was composed over a period of four years from 1892 to 1896, and especially during the summers of 1895 and 1896, which Mahler spent at the Attersee in Austria. Following performances of several individual movements of the symphony, the complete work was premiered on June 9, 1902, at the 38th “Tonkünstler Festival” in Krefeld. Mahler conducted the Städtische Kapelle Krefeld and Cologne’s Gürzenich Orchestra at this exciting event. It was one of his greatest successes, and his contemporaries were deeply impressed. Between 1902 and 1907, the composer conducted his Third Symphony a further 15 times.

Of the six powerful movements, the slow fourth one requires not only a large orchestra but also a mezzo-soprano solo for a setting of the “Midnight Song” (“O Man! Take heed!”) from Friedrich Nietzsche's poetical-philosophical "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," while in the cheerful fifth movement the mezzo-soprano soloist is joined by a children’s choir and a female chorus for the song Es sungen drei Engel from "Des Knaben Wunderhorn". The symphony is a huge challenge for all its performers, and this concert recording of June 2016 has a prestigious line-up: guest conductor Bernard Haitink with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, the Augsburger Domsingknaben and the Frauenchor des Bayerischen Rundfunks; the solo parts are sung by Gerhild Romberger.

“Haitink has long been regarded as one of our least egocentric and interventionist conductors, and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that more keenly than on this recording...throughout the long first movement in particular, there’s a sense that the music is simply being allowed to unfold itself organically rather than being driven too hard.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 6th January 2017

“The opening horn unison arrests and promises much, Mahler’s Third delivered with the long view typical of Bernard Haitink. He doesn’t sensationalise the music…the remaining five movements, naturalistic and divine, receive superior outings – poetic, eloquent, picturesque, as agile and athletic as required. The posthorn solo during the third movement is especially magical…as ever from Bavarian Radio, the orchestra and the sound are exemplary.” Classical Ear, 17th April 2017 ****

“Haitink seems just a pure conduit for the music.” Hi-Fi News, May 2017

“a perfect beauty of a performance, natural sound matching natural evoution and every solo perfectly intoned” BBC Music Magazine, May 2017 *****

“While the performance feels most engaged when the music is in repose, the inner movements are more than adequately eloquent. The excellent posthorn solos in the third are credited to Martin Angerer…Gerhild Romberger has an old-fashioned contralto-ish timbre in the Nietzsche setting…the choirs sound lovely in the fifth movement and the finale has always been a Haitink speciality, plainly spoke and all the more moving for it.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2017

Presto Disc of the Week

6th January 2017

BBC Music Magazine

Orchestral Choice - May 2017

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BR-KLASSIK Greatest Moments

BR-KLASSIK Greatest Moments

CD Sampler plus Catalogue 2016


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Gloria: Highlights of sacred choral music

Gloria: Highlights of sacred choral music


Bach, J S:

Mass in B minor, BWV232: Gloria in excelsis Deo

Concerto Köln, Peter Dijkstra

Magnificat in D major, BWV243: Gloria Patri Filio

Concerto Köln, Peter Dijkstra

St Matthew Passion, BWV244: O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden

Concerto Köln, Peter Dijkstra

St John Passion, BWV245: Herr, unser Herrscher

Concerto Köln, Peter Dijkstra

Beethoven:

Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123: Kyrie

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Bernard Haitink

Dvorak:

Eja Mater (from Stabat Mater, Op. 58)

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Mariss Jansons

Gounod:

St Cecilia Mass: Kyrie

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Mariss Jansons

Handel:

Dixit Dominus, HWV 232: Dixit Dominus

Concerto Köln, Peter Dijkstra

Haydn:

Die Schöpfung: Die Himmel erzählen

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Bernard Haitink

Schubert:

Mass No. 2 in G major, D167 - Gloria

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Mariss Jansons

Verdi:

Dies Irae (from Requiem)

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Mariss Jansons


“Chorus”, the name for a community of singers that evolved in Europe from the Middle Ages onwards, derived from the choros of Ancient Greek theatre. The first polyphony soon arose from the initially purely monophonic Latin church music, sung since Late Antiquity and collected and standardised under Pope Gregory I as Gregorian chant. The Renaissance then brought forth complex types of polyphonic a cappella works; these reached new heights during the course of the 16th century in multiple choirs, bringing new experiences in sound through the juxtaposition - whenever space allowed - of several choirs inside churches. The choir became increasingly functional – above all in operas, cantatas and oratorios. By the Late Baroque period, the development stage had been reached that still characterises today’s concept of the choir: a fixed choral ensemble, clearly differentiated from an instrumental one (the orchestra); works of primarily spiritual content; texts in Latin but, increasingly, in national languages as well; and everything gradually becoming more representational in character. The first bourgeois choral societies of the 19th century – the forerunners of today's philharmonic choirs - were ensembles of a size that could compete as well as cooperate with symphonic orchestras. In choral singing, the content - sacred and secular, nationalist and idealist, reactionary and revolutionary – could be expressed with powerful emotion, not only in separate compositions but also in choral numbers extracted from their former, broader contexts. As the 19th century progressed, combinations of popular pieces appeared that were seldom coherent in terms of their content but still sounded highly impressive (in a musical context this is not referred to as an anthology but more usually as a Florilegium), and it is these that still determine today’s concert programmes.

The Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks can be heard here performing highlights of sacred choral music dating from the Baroque period to modern times. Even today, three hundred years later, the large oratorio choirs by Bach and Handel are as vivid, realistic and captivating as ever. Haydn succeeded in preserving this for the sacred music of the Wiener Klassik era, which reached its peak in Beethoven's Missa solemnis. The heartfelt masses composed by Schubert are typical of early German Romanticism, Gounod’s St. Cecilia Mass is the French equivalent here, and Dvořák's Stabat mater represents Bohemian Romanticism of the mid- to late 19th century. Verdi's famous Messa da Requiem testifies to the close relationship between Italian opera and Italian church music. The Mass written just before the end of World War II by the Hungarian composer Kodály is still Late Romantic in its musical language, while in his Berlin Mass, written shortly before the start of the 20th century, the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt maintains the Tintinnabuli style that informs and inspires his work.

“From Bach through Haydn and Beethoven to Verdi, the Bavarian Radio Choir, one of the best in Germany, shows great versatility in this selection of recordings marking its 70th birthday.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2017 ****

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Beethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123

Beethoven: Missa Solemnis in D major, Op. 123

Live-Recording, Munich, Herkulessaal, 25./26.09.2014


Genia Kühmeier (soprano), Elisabeth Kulman (mezzo-soprano), Mark Padmore (tenor), Hanno Müller-Brachmann (bass-baritone) & Anton Barachovsky (solo violin)

Chor and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Bernard Haitink

The BR-KLASSIK label has already released several recordings with Bernard Haitink, who has now been connected with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks for over 55 years. Following Bruckner's Fifth Symphony, Mahler's Ninth and Haydn's "Creation," BR-KLASSIK now presents a live recording of Ludwig van Beethoven's "Missa solemnis" – a work performed for the recording market for the first time under the baton of Bernard Haitink. The musical partners of this grand seigneur among world-class conductors are the Choir and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks as well as a finely coordinated ensemble of soloists, consisting of Genia Kühmeier, Elisabeth Kulman, Mark Padmore and Hanno Müller-Brachmann.

“it is deeply felt, has a superbly disciplined and committed chorus, and grows powerfully towards an Agnus Dei whose darkness and terror are beautifully realised.” Sunday Times, 10th May 2015

“Haitink at 85 makes his first recording of one of music’s choral masterpieces – and what a wonderful performance his wisdom and experience offers.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2015

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - August 2015

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BR Klassik - 900130

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Haydn: The Creation

Haydn: The Creation

Live-Recording: Munich, December 2013


Following Mahler's Ninth and Bruckner's Fifth, this live recording of Joseph Haydn's "The Creation" is already the third CD recording to feature the masterly Bernard Haitink at the helm of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. Haitink has been a guest conductor of the orchestra for over 50 years now. Haydn's oratorio "The Creation", first performed in 1798, instantly became an established part of the repertoire and the greatest success the composer had ever experienced. Today, it still ranks as an important test for any ensemble of soloists, choir and orchestra. The Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks and its Choir joined forces for this recording, together with a team of renowned soloists. The solo parts of the three archangels are sung by renowned soprano Camilla Tilling, Mark Padmore, who can also be heard in the BR-KLASSIK recording of Britten's "War Requiem", and bass-baritone Hanno Müller-Brachmann who, as a representative of the younger generation, is enjoying a remarkable operatic, lieder and concert career.

“[Haitink] approaches this great choral masterpiece with wit, unhurried grandeur, riveting orchestral detail and forward momentum...Choir, orchestra and soloists are on sparkling form in this live recording – an invigorating reminder, if any were needed, of Haydn’s genius.” The Observer, 14th December 2014 ****

“Right from the “Representation of Chaos” at the oratorio’s start, you know that Haitink has his finger on the music’s dramatic pulse. The orchestra paints incisive pictures, punctuating Haydn’s unearthly wandering harmonies with sharp, seismic shocks...This is a great interpretation of a choral classic.” The Telegraph, 23rd September 2014 *****

“Haitink is predictably superb in movements that encapsulate the 18th-century notion of 'the sublime'...Rarely, too, has the portrayal of the first dawn in Paradise sounded so radiant...With eager, firm-toned singing from the professional choir, the neo-Handelian fugal choruses unfold with a wide dynamic range and a powerful sense of inevitability...This new recording has much to offer” Gramophone Magazine, November 2014

“It manages to combine the virtues of old and new performance traditions and in capturing the essence of Haydn’s wonderfully humane creation. I have no hesitation in saying that this is by some way the most satisfying recorded performance of the work I have heard.” MusicWeb International, 8th December 2014

“The Bavarian chorus does a very good job, with abundant tone and helped, as are the soloists and orchestra, by a commendably clear recording...[Tilling] has the flexibility of voice for her arias...Padmore sings admirably, his lyric tones being suitable for the music...Müller-Brachmann is vocally assured, his tone succulent and warm.” International Record Review, December 2014

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Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Mahler: Symphony No. 9

Live-recording, Munich, Philharmonie im Gasteig, 15./16.12.2011


Two years before his death, Gustav Mahler composed his Ninth Symphony, the last one he was able to complete. In view of his serious heart condition, the composer concerned himself in this work with the resulting existential change in his life.

Bernard Haitink is a regular guest on the podium of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. In December of 2011, the conductor from the Netherlands led the orchestra in this work, replacing Mariss Jansons, who was indisposed at the time and he was highly praised for his "old-wise" interpretation. Following Bruckner's 5th Symphony, this is already the second release Bernard Haitink has presented with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks on the BR-KLASSIK label.

Bernard Haitink and the BR-Symphonieorchester: a perfectly interacting team.

A new live-recording from December of 2011.

“there's a feeling of urgency about this new performance that I don't remember in Haitink's Mahler before, as if he is now almost impatient with the Ninth's resigned acceptance of mortality. There's an angularity about the woodwind lines and a rawness to the textures from what is one of Europe's finest orchestras that seems to expose the music's nerve ends; it's not always comfortable listening, but it is sometimes startling.” The Guardian, 26th July 2012 ***

“the way Haitink negotiates the first movement's troubled course displays an unflinching grasp of where and when the climaxes should hit hardest...Between the outer movements' polar extremes Haitink manages vivid reportage of the Landler's ribald humour...This is unquestionably one of the great Ninths of recent years” Gramophone Magazine, October 2012

“[Haitink] shows no sign of weakening his grip on the seemingly effortless long-term vision which has always been a hallmark of his masterly conducting. There are no surprises here other than in the Finale...Solo work is superb throughout, especially so from the first horn, and a live recording which captures barely a shuffle from the audience...a palpable front-runner.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 ****

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BR Klassik - 900113

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Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 in B flat major

Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 in B flat major

Live-Recording, Munich, Philharmonie, 12.02.2010


When people speak of Brucknerian “cathedral edifices”, then this description best applies to his 5th Symphony in B-flat major. This work ranks as a paradigm of the most complicated polyphony in symphonic writing and concurrently as a stirring confession of faith.

The yearning for divine light, for hope and faith – these ideas are communicated in the music and directly touch the listener.

This recorded concert document was made in January of 2010 during a guest appearance by Bernard Haitink, one of the most renowned conductors world-wide, with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks. The concert recording was made at the highest level of technology as a hybrid SACD with multi-channel and stereo sound.

Bernard Haitink, one of the most celebrated podium personalities of the present day.

Recent live recording from January of 2010 in the highest possible sound quality as an SACD.

Document of an enthusiastically received performance in Munich, the city with the special Bruckner tradition.

“Haitink's well-nigh perfect grip on the work, and the magnificent playing of the orchestra, make this a memorable experience. The Bavarian brass are quite especially rich and deep in sound, while the strings, compared say with the Berlin or Vienna Philharmonics, are rather lean. This mixture is ideal in this work” BBC Music Magazine, February 2011 *****

“He brings his usual peerless virtues to the performance – a wonderful sense of spaciousness and an impeccable grasp of the work’s architecture. And what a sound the orchestra makes for him, with its glowing strings and warm woodwind. The brass deserve a special mention for the magnificent slabs of sound they throw out with utter confidence.” The Telegraph, 3rd February 2011 ****

“the works if magnificently played by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, and it's worth noting that the sound on this BR Klassik release is magnificent too. What impresses most is Haitink's conception of the piece. His view of the finale is not as heaven-storming as that of some of his predecessors, but instead there's a slightly gentler kind of exultation that I find extremely effective.” International Record Review, March 2011

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