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Klaus Tennstedt conducts Beethoven & Bruckner
The December 1981 concerts, with works by Beethoven and Bruckner, were predominantly romantic in character. First came Beethoven’s Second (actually first) Piano Concerto in B flat. Tennstedt supplied a "sensitively restrained accompaniment to the Argentinian pianist Bruno Leonardo Gelber" (Klaus Geitel in the Berliner Morgenpost). Gelber had played in a manner quite free from what we associate with the later Beethoven style: "nimble, gentle in tone, and in the Adagio a touching youthful reflectiveness." In the Tagesspiegel Walter Kaempfer praised Gelber’s commitment to this neglected work: "The pianist’s faultless artistry, captivating in its sonorities and delicate articulation, combined ideally well with the orchestra playing in a kind of communication rarely experienced." Gelber reminisced in an interview with the Argentinian journalist Cecilia Scalisi in 2009 : "The Second Concerto is full of contrasts, but is at the same time fresh, light, youthful. It has to be played with gallantry and assurance. Most wonderful of all is the cadenza, charming to listen to, full of energy and character like the mature Beethoven brought back into his own youth – most exciting! I always ask the conductor to give special attention to the contrasts between legato and staccato, for this articulation pervades everything that the music contains. I got to know Tennstedt in Kiel, and we performed together in Berlin. He was one of the finest conductors I have worked with, certainly a great interpreter of Beethoven." In the E flat Romantic Symphony of Bruckner that followed, Tennstedt was from the outset "as if on fire, and the flames soon spread over the whole orchestra" (Walter Kaempfer). Hans-Jörgen von Jena (Volksblatt) commented on the special characteristics of this interpretation: "The brooding Bruckner gave way to Bruckner the melodist. The Philharmonic were able to move freely and calmly on the high plateau that they have established from the beginning for all their Bruckner performances. Brass choruses and shimmering strings seemed to be well within the limits of their powers; the sound was beautiful throughout, richly expressive and lucid. Expansive phrases, broad crescendos, a firm control of formal features, all of this seemed quite natural. There was no hint of that other Bruckner – the massively structured, archaic character – than can appear in this symphony as in others."
from the booklet note © Helge Grünewald, 2010
“The real test of any performance of Bruckner's Fourth Symphony is the finale, which Tennstedt handles with special understanding: generously paced, shrewdly detailed and comprehensively of a piece.” Gramophone Magazine, February 2011
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Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in Eb Major 'Romantic'
Symphony No.4 in E-flat major has been one of Bruckner's most popular works ever since its first performance, in Vienna 1881. It is often called the ‘Romantic', a nickname that Bruckner himself used, most probably in reference to the literary genre of the medieval romance. What was performed in Vienna in 1881 was a second, revised version of the symphony, which had actually already seen first light in 1874. In spite of the success of the revised version, further revisions took place before publication, resulting in the so-called ‘1888 version' recorded here. Although this remained the preferred version for several decades, it later became discredited, as it was assumed that the revisions it contained were the product of others than the composer himself. The rehabilitation of the 1888 version is to a large extent due to the efforts of the musicologist Benjamin Korstvedt, who in 2004 prepared the first modern edition of the 1888 version for the Bruckner Collected Works edition. In his liner notes to the present disc, Korstvedt discusses this background, giving a number of interesting illustrations of the differences between editions.
It has been said that Bruckner took Beethoven's Symphony No.9 as the starting point for his symphonies. It therefore seems logical that Osmo Vänskä and his Minnesota Orchestra have chosen to record this work after their acclaimed cycle of Beethoven's symphonies.
“…surely the hottest modern interpretation on disc. Rhythms, colours, articulation: everything is pointed and bright…Buy and rejoice.” The Times on Vanska’s Beethoven cycle with the Minnesota Orchestra.
“Vänskä shows that Bruckner's last thoughts on his most popular symphony deserve to be heard...The performance has a sense of missionary zeal about it, too – predominantly swift tempi, fiercely worked climaxes and a real dramatic charge, all underpinned by exceptional orchestral playing.” The Guardian, 1st July 2010 ****
“...high-definition ensemble and well-sprung tempi...strike a balance between tradition and a modern spring-clean...There is nothing remotely ponderous about this performance - the emphasis is on spring-coil energy...Vänskä’s dynamism [is] effective on its own terms, and his mid-Western orchestra responds to his will with flawless spirit.” Financial Times, 3rd July 2010 ****
“Everything sounds natural and mellifluous...Vänskä’s inspired and caring direction makes everything plausible; and the Minnesota musicians respond with that taut, fresh attack and lyrical glow familiar from their exciting Beethoven symphony cycle.” The Times, 16th July 2010 ****
“The performance is vintage Vänskä: lean, lithe, emotionally engaged, meticulously prepared” Gramophone Magazine, October 2010
“...even if you decide against this score in the end, this finely recorded, authoritative performance will make the process all the more enjoyable.” BBC Music Magazine, October 2010 ****
“Vänskä's rhythmic incisiveness and his rendering the music's formal evolution in terms of dovetailed blocks rather than rolling paragraphs is appropriate for the continuity pursued here” International Record Review, October 2010
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Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 7
Christian Thielemann is widely regarded as the leading Brucknerian of our age, and his performances with the Munich Philharmonic, of which he has been music director since 2004, enjoy cult status all over the world. This DVD features a world première of Bruckner´s two most popular works, the Symphonies No. 4 and No. 7, which he interprets as sublime cathedrals of late Romantic music, impressing his listeners in ways that few other conductors can do.
Video director Agnes Méth
First on DVD: Thielemann´s fantastic performances of Bruckner´s two most popular works.
Thielemann is a maestro internationally known and admired above all as a specialist of Romantic music and a highly acclaimed Bayreuth Wagner Ring conductor.
“Under Christian Thielemann's guidance, the Munich Philharmonic sounds terrific.” New York Times 2007
“Christian Thielemann is the most gifted German conductor." Financial Times
Running Time 145 minutes
Picture 16:9, color
Sound PCM Stereo, DTS 5.1
Packaging NTSC: Amaray 1 DVD
Booklet English, German, French
“Dynamic control is masterly, paragraphs are clearly marked, silences fully exploited, climaxes expertly tiered...Agnes Meth's video direction is excellent. As reportage it is superb, as a piece of visually conceived musical analysis the camerawork outscores even the finest programme essay.” Gramophone Magazine, August 2010
“There are some thrilling successes - the climaxes of both slow movements in particular” BBC Music Magazine, August 2010 ***
“The overriding impression is of breadth. The movement timings show him to be towards the slower end of the spectrum...At the end of each work there are little nods of approval between the players. Thielemann certainly has them with him rather than against him - they watch him closely. I cannot praise their playing too highly. Incidentally, the violins are divided, giving lots of nice antiphonal affects.” MusicWeb International, 9th September 2013
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Günter Wand conducts Bruckner & Beethoven
Few conductors have made a greater contribution to our present day understanding of Bruckner than Günter Wand (1912-2002). His readings of the composer‘s symphonies invariably concentrated on their texture and hence, their spirit. During the great final phase of his career, documented here, Wand devoted himself increasingly to Bruckner‘s works and his interpretations became more and more free, revealing both heartfelt emotion and musical intelligence. He developed trademark fidelity towards Bruckner, which led to insightful readings of his works. Wherever possible Wand returned to the versions representing most clearly the composer‘s intentions - be it the „urtext“ or scrupulously restored versions.
In the television recording of Bruckner’s popular Symphony No.4, Günter Wand and his inimitable style of conducting are brought back to life in a particularly impressive way. The films of his concerts at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, from 1987 onwards, can truly be regarded as Günter Wand‘s legacy to the NDR Sinfonieorchester, „his“ orchestra for almost 20 years, on which he has left a mark like no other.
Sound Format: PCM STEREO
DVD Format: DVD 5, NTSC
Picture Format: 4:3
Running Time: 87 mins
“an ideal performance by an orchestra and conductor who love every note” BBC Music Magazine, June 2010 *****
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Bruckner - Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4
Recorded Live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam on 7, 8 February 2007 and 28 August 2008 (Bruckner 3), 17, 18, 19 and 21 September 2008 (Bruckner 4)
Ever since the tenure of its chief conductor Eduard van Beinum (1945-59), the Concertgebouw Orchestra has cherished one of the greatest Bruckner symphonic traditions in the world. Mariss Jansons continues this performance tradition and under his baton, Bruckner has a warm, beating heart: his rhythms are not simply played, they are, above all, experienced.With this release of Bruckner's Third and Fourth Symphonies, Jansons and his Amsterdam-based orchestra add a new chapter to the RCO's impressive performance and recording history of Bruckner's works.
"That same sense of having found exactly the right pulse rate for the music was there from the start of the Bruckner too…chording was compact, timbres lean yet ripe, and rhythms rigorous and highly charged, particularly in the exuberance of the Concertgebouw's burnished brass. The orchestra's lustrous strings sang as one, bringing light and air to an adagio that can too often become suffocating. Jansons, typically, understood and felt not only every nerve within the score, but also exploited and made very much his own every second of his orchestra's own Bruckner heritage." The Times
"The World's Greatest Orchestra" Gramophone December 2008
“…excellent sound, and… magnificent playing from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra…” BBC Music Magazine, November 2009 ***
“Listening to these performances, I was reminded of Karajan's remark about the great Czech conductor Václav Talich: "He had a great genius for… drawing the orchestra together and controlling it as a single expressive instrument." In these powerfully articulated accounts of Bruckner's Third and Fourth symphonies, Mariss Jansons exhibits that very quality.” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2009
“it is right up there with the very best versions of the past. Jansons seems to have an innate ability to get just the right tempos - where nothing hurries but neither does it drag – so important in Bruckner where the phrases go on for such a long time as passages gradually build and then decline. The balance is superb, the brass sound is rich rather than cutting and the strings sing lustrously throughout.” Chris O'Reilly, Presto Classical, 24th August 2009
Presto Disc of the Week
24th August 2009
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Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in Eb Major 'Romantic'
Taken from the original Denon recordings, this disc is released for the first time in many years at a great price. ‘The performance has a certain ardour and conviction that impress………. The sumptuous tone produced by the Dresden orchestra is a joy in itself’. Penguin Guide
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