Category Archives: Classical

George Butterworth – Orchestral Works – BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Kriss Russman (2016) [eClassical 24-96]

George Butterworth – Orchestral Works – BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Kriss Russman (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 01:15:32 minutes | 1,27 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical | Digital Booklet | ©  BIS Record
Recorded: January 2015 (1, 8–15, 19) and Sept 2015 (2–7, 16–18) at Hoddinott Hall, Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, Wales

When George Butterworth joined the army in 1914, his most recent works included the song cycle Six Songs from ‘A Shropshire Lad’ as well as the Rhapsody ‘A Shropshire Lad’, which he called ‘an orchestral epilogue’ to his settings of A. E. Housman’s poems. The Rhapsody has since been described as ‘one of the greatest of all English orchestral works’ and when Butterworth left England to fight in the First World War, he was seen as one of the bright hopes of British music – a hope that in August 1916 was extinguished in the trenches at the Somme. When Butterworth joined up he stopped composing and also destroyed several manuscripts that he felt were inferior. An exception was an Orchestral Fantasia which he had started just before the war broke out: a 92-bar full score manuscript lasting some three-and-a-half minutes has been preserved. On the first page Butterworth wrote ‘see short score’ which implies that the work may have been completed – but if so, the score in question has been lost. The composer and conductor Kriss Russman has therefore taken up where the manuscript breaks off, adding some 5 minutes of music through a process which he describes in his liner notes as ‘developing Butterworth’s original ideas and combining them with additional material derived from an analysis of his other music.’ Performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales under Russman himself, the world première recording of the Fantasia closes the present disc which also includes some of Butterworth’s best loved pieces, such as The Banks of Green Willow. Russman has also made orchestral arrangements of the five-movement Suite for String Quartette and the Six Songs from ‘A Shropshire Lad’, both of which are recorded here for the first time. The soloist in the song cycle, and in the three songs that make up Love Blows as the Wind Blows, is James Rutherford, who has previously recorded the Shropshire Lad songs for BIS in the original version with piano accompaniment.

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Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 9 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2008) [nativeDSDmusic DSF DSD64/2.82MHz]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 9 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2008)
DSD64 (.dsf) 1 bit/2,8 MHz | Time – 01:02:00 minutes | 2,44 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Digital Booklet | © Pentatone Music B.V.
Recorded: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland, 5/2007

If one includes the F minor study symphony dating from 1863, and the Symphony no. ‘0’ dating from 1869, then Anton Bruckner composed a total of 11 symphonies. However, Bruckner weeded out both early works from his definite canon of symphonies, and therefore the symphony which received the conclusive number of 9 was also most emphatically his ‘Ninth’. His ‘farewell’ work. Principally due to the legacy left by Beethoven, the term ‘Ninth’ made him overly feel awkward, perhaps even somewhat fearful. Otherwise, it is impossible to explain why Bruckner laid aside his work on the Symphony No. 9 so shortly after beginning with such commitment, and consciously turned to other projects.

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Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 8 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2010) [nativeDSDmusic DSF DSD64/2.82MHz]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 8 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2010)
DSD64 (.dsf) 1 bit/2,8 MHz | Time – 01:19:48 minutes | 3,15 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Digital Booklet | © Pentatone Music B.V.
Recorded: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland, April, June, July 2010

With the Eight Symphony, Anton Bruckner completes a kind of sonorous apotheosis of the Romantic era. A summit resurrected by the haughty conducting of Marek Janowski at the head of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Partner of this grandiose project which looks increasingly like a current integral, Espace 2 welcomes this release perpetuating the action of a public service specifically mandated to relay the cultural and musical richness of the French-speaking Switzerland. If the recording is –by definition- not central in the mission of a broadcaster, it nevertheless constitutes a kind of freezeframe sealing again the long relationship between the OSR and “its” radio station. I recall that the Radio Télévison Suisse and the great Swiss orchestra are contractually linked for more than 70 years and that they nourish together, day after day, new projects, new exchanges that allow the sonorous immediacy lived at the Victoria Hall of Geneva to be propagated throughout Switzerland, and worldwide through the European Broadcasting Union (EBU).

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Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 7 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2011) [nativeDSDmusic DSF DSD64/2.82MHz]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 7 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2011)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz | Time – 01:06:03 minutes | 2,6 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Digital Booklet |  © Pentatone Music B.V.
Recorded: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland (10/ 2010)

In the more than 100 years since his death in 1896, the appraisals by musicologists, critics and the public at large of Anton Bruckner, the man, and Anton Bruckner, the composer, have consistently been radical in character. From the beginning, the standpoints of Bruckner disciples and Bruckner haters have been virtually irreconcilable. Few cases in musical historiography have featured such a diversity of standpoints regarding the importance of an oeuvre and its creator for European music. For the longest time, clichés and stereotypes set the tone of Bruckner reception, with Bruckner himself tending to be the focus of attention. This approach was typically accompanied by questionable characterisations which stood in the way of any objective investigation, e.g., ‘God’s musician,’ ‘Upper-Austrian peasant,’ ‘hero of German composition’ and ‘half genius, half idiot.’ It was not until the 1980s that Bruckner’s musical oeuvre, as such, started being subjected to greater scrutiny (than its creator). In particular Germanspeaking musicologists, with the help of detailed work analyses, began to approach the phenomenon of Anton Bruckner using a method which set aside the questionable anecdotes and speculations surrounding the personage, Bruckner, and concentrated above all on the facts: i.e., the surviving musical texts (in which connection the version problem became the foremost priority).

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Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 6 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2009) [nativeDSDmusic DSF DSD64/2.82MHz]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 6 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2009)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz | Time – 00:57:36 minutes | 2,27 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Digital Booklet |  © Pentatone Music B.V.
Recorded: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland, Jan. 2009

As this symphony is the first not to be subjected to extensive revision by the composer, an interested person scrutinising or listening to Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A major is not forced to deal with the complex aspect of the various versions available. Consequently, for a change, it is available in just the one version. Thus one might conclude that this positive fact facilitates the access to the Symphony No. 6. After all, in the past, musicologists, conductors and audiences alike have struggled – and still struggle to this day – with the tangled web of versions in numerous other symphonies written by Bruckner. Nevertheless, we are still a long way from giving the work a straightforward and unconditional reception – indeed, the Symphony No. 6 receives rather shabby treatment in the concert hall and in Bruckner discographies, despite the fact that it is the shortest symphony ever written by Bruckner. Then why is the Sixth allotted the role of a “hanger-on”? Perhaps because it does not tie in with our image of Bruckner – perhaps due to its novel structure, its patently obvious complex of themes, or the massive upgrading of its slow movement?

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Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 5 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2010) [nativeDSDmusic DSF DSD64/2.82MHz]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 5 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2010)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz | Time – 01:13:53 minutes | 2,91 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Digital Booklet |  © Pentatone Music B.V.
Recorded: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland, (7/2009)

In his novel “The Discovery of Slowness”, the German writer Sten Nadolny describes the life and death of the English naval officer and Arctic explorer John Franklin. The book is a subtle study on time. Franklin was a slow human being. He spoke slowly, thought slowly, and was slow to react. And even if he failes outwardly at the end, he yet emerges victorious, as in the old paradox of the race between Achilles and the tortoise. Because, from the perspective of slowness, the world does change. And the reader feels this. So what has that got to do with Anton Bruckner and his Fifth Symphony in B flat major? Well, at first glance, not a lot. But if we look more closely, it is not so difficult to credit this late Romantic composer with the “discovery of slowness”. The Fifth, like Nadolny’s book, is a deeply personal study on time.

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Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 4 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2013) [nativeDSDmusic DSF DSD64/2.82MHz]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 4 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2013)
DSD64 (.dsf) 1 bit/2,8 MHz | Time – 01:03:27 minutes | 2,5 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Digital Booklet | © Pentatone Music B.V.
Recorded: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland, 10/2012

Anyone who seriously and intensively studies Anton Bruckner’s Symphonies, i.e.: the scores of these works, can, in good conscience, not only consider him/herself a detail-obsessed musical researcher, but clearly a kind of musicological secret agent, as well. For, as recently as the early eighties of the last century, just these versions were regarded as Bruckner’s best protected ‘intelligence material’ (Vetter). It would, above all, be due to the ground-breaking work of Manfred Wagner, Wolfram Steinbeck and Thomas Röder that an unnecessarily long period of darkness came to an end. For far too long, the public in the ‘hard-core’ Bruckner nations, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, had stood in total confusion before this version-conundrum because the requisite clarification on the part of musicologists – a clarification that stood at the intersection of musical theory and practice – had hardly commenced. Today, professionals in the field of music are very careful in their use of terms which were once bandied about without hesitation – terms like ‘original version,’ ‘Urtext,’ final version’ or ‘ideal version. The problems concerning the different versions of Bruckner’s symphonies are now finally receiving the attention they deserve.

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Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 3 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2012) [nativeDSDmusic DSF DSD64/2.82MHz]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 3 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2012)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz | Time – 00:53:18 minutes | 2,10 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Digital Booklet |  © Pentatone Music B.V.
Recorded: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland (10/2011)

It was by chance that Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 3 in D minor received the nickname of the “Wagner” Symphony. Early in September 1873, Bruckner set out for Bayreuth after taking the waters in Marienbad to submit and dedicate to Wagner – whom he greatly admired – his new symphonies No. 2 in C minor and No. 3 in D minor (in which he had as yet, incidentally, only outlined the finale). Bruckner wrote as follows: “It was about the beginning of September 1873 (the Crown Prince Frederick was in Bayreuth for a few days) when I asked the master if I could present to him my Symphony No. 2 in C Minor and Symphony No. 3 in D minor. He turned down my request, the glorious man, due to lack of time (the construction of his theatre), and said that he could not review the scores at that moment as he had still had to put pen to paper for the Nibelungen. I answered: ‘Maestro, I have no right to deprive you of even a quarter of an hour, I simply trust that, considering the Maestro’s great perspicacity, a glance would suffice for him to understand the matter at hand.’. Whereupon the Maestro answered, patting me on the shoulder: ‘Well, come then,’ and went into the salon to take a look at my second symphony.

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Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 2 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2013) [nativeDSDmusic DSF DSD64/2.82MHz]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 2 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2013)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz | Time – 00:54:50 minutes | 2,16 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Digital Booklet |  © Pentatone Music B.V.
Recorded: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland (10/2012)

To this day, Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor is the least frequently performed of all his symphonies. Rather odd, as the composer described the work in a letter dated October 9, 1878 as “probably, first and foremost, the symphony that is easiest for the audience to understand”, and the first performance, given in Vienna on October 16, 1873 was a great success for the composer. How can one explain this peculiar contrast? On the one hand, considered objectively, the audience could easily follow the work; yet on the other hand, the public at large displayed a predominant lack of interest in the symphony. Is there more involved in this case to fully comprehend precisely this symphony, than simply an understanding of its very clear formal concept? Or had the Symphony No. 2 simply fallen between two creative stools, thanks to its direct symphonic predecessors and successors? Let us take a brief look at the works in its direct vicinity.

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Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 1 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2012) [nativeDSDmusic DSF DSD64/2.82MHz]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 1 – Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Marek Janowski (2012)
DSF Stereo DSD64/2.82MHz | Time – 00:47:05 minutes | 1,86 GB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: nativeDSDmusic | Digital Booklet |  © Pentatone Music B.V.
Recorded: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland (6/2011)

Linz, the summer of 1861. Anton Bruckner sits hunched over a sheet of music paper. He is doing his homework. Today the curriculum set by his teacher Otto Kitzler includes a dance. In itself, not an unusual situation for a student; at least, were the “student”, Anton Bruckner, not already 37 years old. After six years of intensive instruction in music theory with Simon Sechter, he has now decided to also study “free composition”. And so once again, he has elected to return to the school benches, this time under the tutelage of the Linz conductor Otto Kitzler. Again, theory is the core subject, but this time placed in a more practical setting, dealing with form and instrumentation. For Bruckner is interested in composing. On July 10, 1863, after two years of study, he feels ready and receives his requested, formal “acquittal” from Kitzler, as was formerly given to the apprentice. Now, once again he is staring down at his sheet of music paper: the familiar blank page that needs to be filled. With bold ideas, new concepts, individual solutions. Although Bruckner probably never actually said that he felt “like a yard dog, which has broken loose from its chain” (Max Auer probably pu these words in the composer’s mouth) after his acquittal, he now felt safe in his acquired creative freedom.

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