20 September 2011

In Memoriam - Kurt Sanderling

Kurt Sanderling passed away on 17 Sep 2011. May he rest in peace.

He left many memorable recordings for music lovers to cherish. His Beethoven and Brahms symphonies, Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4 (mono), Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2, Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 3 and 7, and, above all, Shostakovich symphonies are particularly remembered by this humble listener. I took out some of these recordings and listened once again with sadness and at the same time admiration and respect.

His Beethoven cycle with the Philharmonia Orchestra stands proudly alongside the only other two cycles by this orchestra with Karajan and Klemperer.

Each recording of Brahms symphonies by him is memorable,  for his unmannered, natural music making.

Simply inevitable.

While he might not exhibit the type of astringency and ferocity of Mravinsky's Shostakovich, he graced his reading with a fine balance of Slavic warmth and  melancholy, which is more moving.

This box-set was bought in 1997 in Berlin. The price tag was still in Deutsche Mark. I missed his concert when he stood in for an ailing Giulini in Feb 1998.

His Bruckner 3rd and 7th are among my favourite recordings of these symphonies. Just three months ago I revisited his Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2 and that gave me a happy afternoon. Thank you very much Maestro.

19 September 2011

The new EMI Wilhelm Furtwängler box-set -- disappointing documentation

The new EMI Wilhelm Furtwängler 21-CD box-set, The Great Recordings, should be a convenient and relatively inexpensive route for young music lovers not familiar with this great conductor to get to know his art. There are also surprises for seasoned Furtwängler fans: new Abbey Road  24-bit digital remastering of the Beethoven and Brahms symphonies recordings following the footsteps of the SACDs of these recordings released by EMI Japan not too long ago. Although I've already had many Furtwängler recordings, I was still lured by this new gimmick and bought this box-set with HK$500.

The card-board packaging is quite nice and neat. So far so good. However when I read the enclosed booklet, I was really disappointed. They got the orchestra for the last three Brahms symphonies wrong. In this and previous EMI sets, only the First Symphony was played by the Vienna Philharmonic, and the rest the Berlin Philharmonic. The dates of the recordings corresponded to the old set. Here in the new box-set, it is incorrectly documented that all the Brahms symphonies were recordings of the Vienna Philharmonic as shown below:

The booklet of the old EMI References box-set of Brahms symphonies is shown alongside the new one below:

Such a pity. 

I'll go to my friend Savio's home to compare the sound of the CDs in the new box-set with different previous incarnations by EMI Europe or Japan. Savio has good high-end hi-fi gears and he is also a very experienced classical music lover and critic. Let's see what results we'll get.

15 September 2011

The ubiquitous magic Wand

Following closely the release information of Wand's Bruckner concert in the NHK Japan archives comes another release of his conducting Bruckner 5th on 9 Sep 1990 leading the BBC Symphony Orchestra at BBC Proms, this time on DVD by ICA Classics, to be released in November. Added as a bonus is a short interview lasting 2'54".

Timings of the tracks for the symphony: 20'58", 15'27", 14'02", 24'58".

It can only be said that the magic Wand is truly ubiquitous.

10 September 2011

Totally unexpected felicities from NHK archives

When one is about to believe that maybe all of Gunter Wand's "early" concert recordings have been unearthed and released, here comes the total surprise from King Records in Japan. In a series commemorating the 85th Anniversary of the NHK Symphony Orchestra, many previously unissued concert recordings will see the light of the day. Bruckner 8th (15/12/1983) and Schubert D944 "The Great" (9/11/1979) conducted by Wand are coming in October.

Another Bruckner double-CD which will be very interesting is Suitner conducting Bruckner 2nd (6/12/1971) and 4th (27/11/1980), again with the NHK Symphony Orchestra.

For fans of Michelangeli and Gulda, they will be more than happy to see these 2 pianists featured in another double-CD, with Michelangeli playing Ravel and Liszt piano concerti (3/4/1965 and 31/5/1965) conducted by Alexander Rumpf, and Gulda playing Beethoven piano concerti no. 1 (22/2/1967, under Sawallisch) and no. 4 (2/5/1969, under Matacic). Really mouth-watering.

The mastering was done by Altus, so I can be quite confident that the sound will be very good.

There are more to come. Top WOW factor.

04 September 2011

Live Broadcast of Bruckner Symphony No. 9 (Simon Rattle and BPO)

Berliner Philharmoniker
Simon Rattle – Ian Bostridge
Benjamin Britten "Nocturne“, Anton Bruckner Symphony No. 9

Alongside two ACCENTUS Music productions with Claudio Abbado and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in August there is another late summer highlight at KKL Lucerne: Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker present works by Benjamin Britten and Anton Bruckner on 1 September 2011. Benjamin Britten gathered eight musical-poetic night pieces together under the title “Nocturne”: musical settings of English poets throughout the centuries performed by tenor Ian Bostridge. This cycle of orchestral songs is coupled with Bruckner’s “Swan Song,” his last symphony, which was unfinished and which he dedicated to “Dear God” - Symphony No. 9 in D minor.

A production of ACCENTUS Music in co-production with SRF/ARTE and in co-operation with LUCERNE FESTIVAL, directed by Michael Beyer and produced by Paul Smaczny.

The concert will be broadcasted on Sunday, 4 September 2011, at 6.10 p.m. on ARTE.

Simon Rattle and the BPO will also perform Bruckner Symphony No. 9 in Taipei in November.