BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E
Chicago Symphony Orch/Bernard Haitink, cond.

WAGNER: Götterdämmerung
Timothy Mussard (Siegfried); Lisa Gasteen (Brünnhilde); Duccio dal Monte (Hagen); Jonathan Summers (Gunther); Joanna Cole (Gutrune); John Wegner (Alberich); Elisabeth Campbell (Waltraute); Liane Keegan (First Norn); Gaye MacFarlane (Second Norn); Katte Ladner (Third Norn); Natie Jones (Woglinde); Donna-Maree Dunlop (Wellgunde); Zan McKendree-Wright (Flosshilde)/Chorus of State Opera of South Australia; Adelaide Symphony Orch/Asher Fisch, cond.
MELBA SACD MR 301099-102 (4 disks) TT: 4 hrs. 27 min.

PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 5 in B flat, Op. 100. Lieutenant Kijé Suite, Op. 60.
Cincinnati Symphony Orch/Paavo Järvi, cond.
TELARC SACD 60683 TT: 64:25

Bernard Haitink recorded Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1966. That recording was highly acclaimed at the time, and has remained in the catalog ever since. Now we have the conductor's live recording with the Chicago Symphony taken from performances May 10, 11, 12 and 15, 2007 in Orchestra Hall. James Mallinson produced, Christopher Willis was engineer, with John Newton as assistant engineer. They have provided a close-up sonic picture of the CSO. Mike placement helps to eliminate audience sounds but it also removes resonance and low bass. If you like your Bruckner massive and full-bodied, avoid this issue. Although Haitink's new recording is one of the longest ever of this symphony (67:31), Sir Georg Solti's 1986 Decca version with the same orchestra is about a minute longer, and the Hungarian conductor's incredible performance with the CSO recorded in Royal Albert Hall in 1978 available on DVD should not be missed (see REVIEW).

Melba is to be congratulated for their enterprise in recording Wagner's complete Ring Cycle, a commendable effort distinguished by excellent orchestral playing and a generally high standard of singing, considering the difficulty of casting Wagnerian operas today. This Götterdämmerung is the finest overall set of the series. Timothy Mussard, a name new to me, shows great promise as Siegfried, although the role in this opera isn't nearly as challenging as it is in the previous opera. Lisa Gasteen is a fine Brünnhilde; throughout, the singing is of the highest standard. And the sound is magnificent, the first recording of Wagner's masterpiece to be recorded in SACD, produced by Maria Vandamme and Ian Perry and engineered by Phil Rowlands. The sound perspective is that of the live performance. A luxurious booklet and complete text are included in this quality issue.

Paavo Järvi and the Cincinnati Symphony continue their fine series of Telarc recordings with this Prokofiev disk recorded in Cincinnati's Music Hall March 18-19, 2007. One can always expect a fine performance with Järvi on the podium, and these do not disappoint. However, the sound is typical Telarc, a bit distant, quite unresonant, but ultra-clear. You'll hear a whopping bass drum, but I'd prefer more resonance, which can be heard on the recent Pentatone issue of Symphony No. 5, with Vladimir Jurowski and the Russian National Orchestra (REVIEW) This also has the advantage of a more imaginative coupling, Prokofiev's seldom-heard Ode to the End of the War.

R.E.B. (January 2008)