15 March 2012

Rattle's 4-movement version of Bruckner 9 -- SACD issued in Japan first

The Japanese penchant for Bruckner's music and recordings will be rewarded once again with the release of a 2-SACD of Sir Simon Rattle's performance of a 4-movement version of Bruckner's last but unfinished symphony, an amalgamated live recording of his Berlin Philharmonic concerts in February 2012. This Japanese release (TOGE 11092), scheduled on 9 May and priced at 3300 yen, was advertised as antedating the international release. The reconstructed Finale makes use of the latest version of the SPCM completion.

03 March 2012

Günter Wand at some of his finest moments -- The second and last DSO box-set

It is almost superfluous to tell classical music lovers that Günter Wand has numerous recordings. If you will remember, Wand passed away on St Valentine's Day ten years ago, in 2002. It is really amazing that there were so many posthumous releases of previously unissued recordings of his, thanks largely to efforts in Germany (Profil) and Japan (Altus).  This simply reflects the huge demand, be it commercial or artistic.

Probably because of the phenomenal support from Japan, the second and last Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin set of 8 CDs from Profil was first released there well before its international release. I happened to be in Tokyo these few days and I felt privileged to be able to listen to these lovely recordings.

The back of the box

The Bruckner volume in this set

Let me share with you some details of the recordings in this set.

Vol. 1 
CD1: Recorded on 26/9/1992 at the Berlin Schauspielhaus (later renamed Konzerthaus). Track 1 is rehearsal of the first movement (29'12") of Beethoven Symphony No. 6 followed by a run-through of the entire work, probably without audience, for the RIAS Beethoven Workshop in Berlin.
CD2: Recorded on 2/11/1992 at the Berlin Schauspielhaus. Track 1 is a 41'09" rehearsal excerpt of the first, second and final movements of Beethoven Symphony No. 5. The rest of the CD is a run-through of this symphony, again for the RIAS Workshop.
CD3: A live concert recording of Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6 on 1-2/11/1994 with applause included, at the same venue as the above.

Vol. 2
CD4: A live concert recording on 5-6/4/1987 at the Berlin Philharmonie of Stravinsky's 1945 version of the ballet suite for orchestra The Firebird and Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5. The orchestra was at that time known as the Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (RSO) before its name change to the present one, DSO, after the unification of Germany.

Vol. 3
CD5: Mozart Symphony No. 40 and Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 6, an RSO concert on 18/9/1988 at the Berlin Philharmonie.

Vol. 4
CD6: A live recording of the concerts on 30/4/1995 and 1/5/1995 of Bruckner Symphony No. 6 and the first movement of the amalgamated concert recording of Bruckner Symphony No. 8 from three concerts on 14-16/5/1994. Both are recorded at the Berlin Philharmonie.
CD7: The last 3 movements of B8 above.

Vol. 5
CD8: All at the Berlin Philharmonie. Haydn Symphony No. 76 (30/4/1995 & 1/5/1995), Mozart Serenade in D major K239 (2/2/1995) and Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition (2/2/1995).

As far as Wand's Bruckner recordings are concerned, that of Symphony No. 6 has always been a sorely-missed gap in his Berlin cycle, unfinishesd because of his passing away. This DSO concert was just half a month before his second NDR live recording. My first impression is that it is a "bold" interpretation. I hope you'll excuse my pun as Bruckner has described this symphony as his boldest. Just from memory, as I don't have his NDR recording at my side during my trip for comparison, I prefer this to his second NDR recording. 

I love the Eighth in this set as the Adagio is very moving, revealing much of Wand's pathos beyond his usual meticulous architectural framework. In fact the Adagio of the Sixth here is also touchingly poignant. This is in line with my feeling about his Bruckner recordings in the first DSO set that Wand was more forthcoming in terms of emotions, compared to his NDR, BPO and even MPO recordings, in his partnership with the DSO. 

Here are the timings for the Bruckner recordings for those who'd like to know:
B6: 16'54", 16'07", 8'46", 15'10"
B8:  16'56", 15'46", 28'39", 27'56"

A set not to be missed.

A day of heavy snow in Tokyo on 29 Feb 2012. Strange weather according to my hotel attendant.