BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 4 in E flat "Romantic. Symphony No. 7 in E.
Munich Philharmonic Orch/Christian Thielemann, cond.
C MAJOR DVD TT: 145 min.

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E
Cleveland Orch/Franz Welser-Möst, cond.

MOZART: The Marriage of Figaro Overture. In diesen heil'gen Hailen from The Magic Flute. La ci darem la mano from Don Giovanni. VERDI: Addio del passato from La traviata. Bella figlia deli'amore from Rigoletto. MAHLER: Adagietto from Symphony No. 5 in C sharp miinor. STRAUSS: Don Juan, Op. 20. BARTÓK: Concerto for Orchestra. SOUSA: Stars and Stripes Forever.
Angela Gheorghiu, soprano. René Pape, bass. Terenza Gevorgyan, soprano. Matilda Paulsson, mezzo-soprano. Roberto Ramgobin, tenor. Ross Ramgobin, baritone. World Orchestra for Peace/Valery Gergiev, cond./Christian Macelaru, cond. (Rigoletto quartet)

Old-time collectors will remember the days when recordings of Bruckner symphonies were scarce—and it took a lot of effort to listen to them. Recordings would require multiple 78 rpm disks, and often, to save adding another disk, the listener would be instructed to replay a complete side as the music was the same. And they were heavy! The Böhm recording of Symphony No 5 took nine disks in two unwieldy albums, and weighed almost 10 pounds! With the advent of LP all that changed, and now with the latest technology we have the ability to enjoy these long works in their entirety without interruption. A DVD weighs less than 5 ounces. How lucky collectors are! This fine new C Major issue of symphonies 4 and 7 with Christian Thielemann conducting the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra has a total playing time of 145 minutes. No details of Bruckners scoring misses the conductor's attention—and he conduits both works without a score. The abundant energy that marked Tjiuelemann's fine recordings of Beethoven symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic (REVIEW) also is apparent here. These are grand, big-scale readings that challenge the best of the past. No. 4 was recorded on unspecific dates in 2008, No. 7 in 2006. in Baden-Baden's beautiful Festspielhaus. Superb video and audio. This is a remarkable bargain.

Franz Welser-Möst has a considerable reputation as an interpreter of Bruckner, and recorded a number of the symphonies earlier with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra (Nos. 7 and 8) and the London Philharmonic (Nos. 5 and 7). This site previously mentioned his new Cleveland Orchestra recordings of Symphony No. 5 (REVIEW), No. 7 (REVIEW), No. 8 (REVIEW), and No. 9 (REVIEW). These have been filmed in various venues: Vienna's Musikverein (No. 9), Stiftsbasalike (No. 5), Nos. 7 and 8 in the Orchestra's home in Severance Hall. There is a clinical perfection in this new Symphony No. 7, and the finale does reach a grand climax indeed. But so does the Thielemann mentioned above—and you have the very considerable bonus of Symphony No. 4. And the price is the same for either. An easy choice, one would think.

The World Orchestra for Peace is a unique organization, formed in 1995 by Sir Georg Solti as an "ambassador for peace." Musicians, many of them first-desk players from major orchestras, participate because of their belief in the project, and are not paid. Valery Gergiev has been conductor of the group since 1997 when Solti died, and has led the orchestra in many remarkable concerts. Their performances of Mahler's symphonies 4 and 5 are available on video and have been praised on this site (REVIEW). Now we have this Solti Centenary Concert commemorating his birth October 21, 1912. Concerts were presented in Carnegie Hall and in Chicago's Orchestra Hall; we have the latter, from October 21, 2012, and it is a festive occasion. There are video tributes from many of the musicians Solti worked with including Plácido Dominto, Renée Fleming, Anne-Sophia Mutter, Dame Evelyn Glennie, Andras Schiff and Murray Perahia. Angela Gheorghiu and René Pape perform music of Mozart and Verd. The DVD of La traviata recorded at the Royal Opera House in 1994 featuring Gheorghiu with Solti conducting is near-definitive (REVIEW). the orchestra features two showpieces of Solti, Strauss' Don Juan and Bartók's Concerto for Orchestra. The conductor's widow, Valerie Solti, is the charming hostess and introduces the various works. Video is excellent, audio good enough considering that the concert was presented in an acoustically problematic venue. The only negative is that there are no separate tracks for the Bartók. An interesting issue, and a fine tribute to a major conductor of the century.

R.E.B. (June 2013).