Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Bruckner, Cso, Solti|
Symphonies (Complete) (Comp)
Listen to Samples
Bruckner will not get any better than this!
Joel Kovacik | 01/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Usually when I encounter box sets of classical music ( with the exception of operas and the like) I'm a little wary of it. Many of them, like this recording, span many years and often there are 2-3 years between recordings.
Even though that is true of this set, it sounds like it was recorded successively. With the exception of the 6th which was recorded on analog, there is no discrepancy in either the performances or the quality of the recordings and even the 6th is very well recorded and extremely vivid, I would argue one of the most vivid. The years of the recordings span from 1979 ( the 6th) to 1995 ( no. 0).
It would take much too long to do a review for every single recording so I will just give some highlights.
Of the recording of the 3rd, Penguine guide referred to it as "the one failure, relatively crude and coarse." I don't agree, if anything, it seemed to me that this recording was not only on par with the others, but that the CSO was equally on top of their game with this one as with the others. I found it very moving, clear, precise and powerful.
Moving onto the recording of the 4th I will say the same thing: very moving, clear, precise and powerful. What struck me about this recording was the tension maintained in the outer movements. Often with Bruckner symphonies, tension can easily be lost because of the length. Here the Chicago Symphony nicely maintains the energy with much thanks to their outstanding team of brass players. The gem of this recording, in my opinion and as much as I love the 1st and 4th movements, is the Scherzo. I love Bruckner Scherzi anyway but the Chicago Symphony does a bang-up job on this one. This track can be characterized as simply authoritative, powerful and overwheliming in the best way possible. In the first minute or so, Solti uses the powerful brass to gain thrust and to propel the entire orchestra into the statement of the main theme with the trombones and echoed by the trumpets.
I have already mentioned how pleased I am with the sixth. It is remarkable that it was recorded on analog. It sounds so amazingly vivid. Of course, the brass is nicely ensnared but the sharpness of the timpani deserves attention as well. Besides the excruciatingly exciting outer movements, the quality of the adagio is enough to leave with breathless at the end. When the orchestra finishes it, the listener gets the overwhelming sense of tranquility - very well done. That is the way to do Bruckner adagios.
The recording of the 8th was made while on tour in St. Petersburg Russia in 1990. Another triumph in my opinion. The real tokens of this recording are the adagio and finale. Again, as in the recording of the 6th, this adagio is enough to leave the listener suspended in calmness. I especially like the way the bring out the religious quality of Bruckner's music ( the same could be said of all the recordings of this set) by emphasis on certain tonalities and harmonies which can easily be passed up by the unwary conductor. The finale is of comparable quality. I have never heard a recording of this piece that has as strong a brass soli as is heard at the beginning of this one - utterly amazing. The sound never, ever wavers. It is simply solid tone throughout and sustained even in moving to the next note. Here again, the listener is confronted with the chorale-like chords that make Bruckner's music so remeniscient of religious music. With many thanks to the CSO brass section, one can hear the beginning of this played on the organ, Bruckner's main instrument. Also, I love the end where the motif of the first movement is triumphantly belted out by the trombones. These guys have such a presence and it really helps to bring the symphony full circle.
Finally, the 9th. I love the 9th symphony anyway. I love the construction of it. I love the use of chords and harmonies that seem distant to the tonic but then find themselves alluding to the tonic. Everything about it I love. And the CSO does it well. Awesome maestoso brass make up the first movement along with a breath-taking coda just overflowing with snipets of chorales first heard in the woodwinds then carried on by sustained brass. This is a first movement that is centered, precise, focused and musical above all. Which brings me to the scherzo. Again, with many thanks to the brass section, the scherzo takes on a veritable demonic quality - very menacing indeed. I believe this is probably Bruckner's most violent scherzo. You can certainly hear it in this recording the way the orchestra pounds away at the double eigth plus quarters motiv practically relentlessly. In matter of fact, the whole scherzo pounds...it is absolutely relentless and I like the fact that the CSO brings out the obvious anger found in it.
Finally, some very trivial negative things. I don't like how London splits up the 5th. They put the 1st movement on one disc and leave the remaining movements on another. There is great chorale-like brass playing on this recording. Another great recording like the other and very powerful indeed. I just prefer to enjoy it all on one disc.
To me, the 7th is the only odd ball in the bunch, and even then, it is a fabulous recording. In referring to the Penguin guide again, they cite that this recording lacks tension in the outer movements. I agree, the brass just doesn't seem to all there, most of the time, and the strings take on a not-so-likable thin palor. The outer movements could be more tight and precise but how they are at the moment is just fine with me. There are some real good moments on this disc. The interpretation of the adagio is absolutely gorgeous. The sonority of the Wagner tubas is perfect, the climax is devastatingly spine-tingling. All in all, perfect and again, it ends with that indispensable sense of irrevocable tranquility. The scherzo is just as you would expect it to be - ferrocious. There are some real tempests present in this interpretation. The dialog between the trumpets and trombones at the full tutti sections gives me goosebumps every time. Finally, even the outer movements lack tension, there is still a good deal of powerful and precision in the rhythmic tuttis...frankily, unlike the first movement ( which still has beauty and grandeur, don't get me wrong), the only part where I'm not convinced is the coda. I wish it was just a tad more powerful.
I have to admit, however, that I'm extremely biased for 2 reasons - one, i'm aspiring orchestral trombone player myself so I look for recordings that have a great deal of brass pressence to them and two, I find that the Chicago Symphony obliges me greatly in that area. All the recordings I get now are with the CSO if I can help it. I absolutely love them. In opinion, they're the best orchestra out there. They are my favorite. And Jay Friedman, principal trombone, is my hero. So while my review of this set might now seem as petty hero worship and one deluded and clouded by admiration, I advise to see for yourself. As with Mahler, I don't think you should listen to Bruckner without a great deal of power and brass..."
It's that superb brass
J. W. Tromp | The Netherlands | 01/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"'Bruckner is brass' or at least the brass is much more involved. To hear a good Bruckner the brassplayers of the orchestra needs to be outstanding. Unfortunately many brass sections of top orchestras do not have quality brass. That's different with the Chicago SO under Solti where all brass player were superb (and maybe they still have such brassplayers)
The top European orchestras do not have that extra quality brass one would expect. The Berliner Philharmoniker and the Wiener Philharmoniker even today use trumpets with rotary-valves... I even heard a top British Orchestra with a lead trumpet player using that 'weird' brassband vibrato.
Further the Tuba players in Europe usually are just not good enough and lack tone and power in the low register of the instrument. But here with Solti and the Chicago SO one can enjoy the beauty of Bruckner with bass playing as it should be. Even the famous recordings by Wand are not my choice.
The fact that Solti is directing must be considered as well as he is also extremely convincing directing Wagner, so he does understand (or at least that's my view) the way brass should sound.
If you are looking for a box that you will play over and over again, this is the one and at a fair price."
Solti's Sine Qua Non of Brucker Ninths
Joel Kovacik | Brooklyn, New York USA | 05/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let me state very succinctly and unequivocally that there is no other Bruckner 9th on earth I can listen to with such rapt, undiminished joy as Solti's.
The overpowering (almost terrifying) coda of the first movement hits the listener like some inexorable, demonic force of Nature, thanks exclusively to Solti's stealth-like tempo and slow-mounting crescendo, where the CSO's thundering brass suddenly takes on a life and will of its own. Once you experience (and survive) the impact of this near-cosmic cataclysm -- sorry, I tend to wax hyperbolical with this particular work -- no other recording will ever satisfy. (Psst! -- and just wait until God Himself throws open the Celestial Gates (TWICE!) in the third movement.)
Although Solti is by no means my favorite Bruckner conductor -- consider Knappertsbusch's underrated, yet unparalleled, SCHALK VERSION! for the Fifth; Haitink and the Concertgebouw for the Third; Anton Nanut and the Ljubljana for the Eighth; Erich Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony (LP only) for the Fourth; Sawallisch and the Bavarian State Orchestra for the Sixth -- I nonetheless award 5 generous stars to this boxed edition, only because life, for this listener, would lose all sense and meaning without Solti's brilliant, never-to-be-equalled interpretation of the heaven-inspired Bruckner Ninth.
By the way, his beguiling (read absolutely perfect!) phrasing of the long melody line at the opening of the Seventh is quite frankly to die for. Though why he chose such a comparatively "sluggish" tempo for the energetic Scherzo is beyond my comprehension.