BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 3 in D minor.
Musikkolegium Winterhur / Thomas Zeitmair, cond.
MDG SACD 901 2090 TT: 50:56

WITTE: Sonatsa for Cello and Piano, Op. 15. Three Pieces for Piano and Cello, Op. 14. WOUTER HUTSCHENRUYTER: Cello Sonata, Op. 4.
Doris Hochscheid, cello. Frans Van Ruth, piano
MDG SACD 903 2094 TT: 71:14

CABEZEON: Tientos, Diferencias y Glosadas
Léon Berben organ
AEOLUS SACD AE 11171 TT: 78:45

Musikkollegium Winterthur was founded in 1629. Over the centuries it has played an important part in Switzerland's musical scene, and can be heard in performances at the Stuttgart opera. Beginning in 1875 it was known as Stadt-orchester Winterthur.A number of well-known conductors have led the group including Hermann Scherchen, Joseph Keilberth and Franz Welser-Möst. Since 2016 Thomas Zehetmair has been Chief Conductor. Symphony No. 3 has been called Bruckner's "Wagner" symphony as it often suggests music from Wagner's operas. It has been revised many times and here is herd in the 1877 version. This performance of Bruckner's Symphony No 3 was made in April 2018 in the warm acoustics of Stadtkirche Winterthur. The orchestra only has about 50 players and provides a rather light-textured sound that would not be effective in the composer's later symphonies. There are dozens of recordings of this symphony including SACD versions by Mariss Jansons, Herbert Blomstedt, Marek Janowski, and Jaap van Zweden. All feature orchestras large enough to do total justice to Bruckner's music.

The enterprising MDG label continues to issue SACDs of unusual repertory often premiere recordings. Here now is the final volume, the eight, in their series of cello sonatas by two Utrecht-born Dutch composers whose music doubtless will be new to most listeners: Georg Hendrik Witte (1843 - 1929) and Wouter Hutschenruyter (1859 - 1943). MDG is doing their part to promote music of Witte; they already issued on SACD the Quintet for Piano and Strings and the Quintet for Horn and Strings.Witte wrote two cello sonatas, and here we have the Op 15. The three-movement 31-minute work opens with music that is indeed Allegro appassionato. This is followed by the three pieces of Op 14. Wutte is best known for his work in promoting music in Essen, a small coal-mining town where, in May 1906, the premiere of Mahler's Symphony No. 6 took place with the composer on the podium. The music of Witte and Hutschenruyter is well-played by cellist Doris Hochscheid and pianist Frans Van Ruth, but musically there is little of lasting interest here. The rewordings were made last year in Marienmünster's Abtei Konzerthaus; audio is excellent, as usual with MDG.

Léon Berben here offers a disk of music by Antonio de Cabezón (c. 1510 - 1566). In spite of the fact that he was blind since childhood, Cabezón was the major Spanish composer of his time. He was royal court organist and toured extensively. The 17 brief pieces on this well-filled disk (78:45) are performed on the famous Ostönnen Gothic organ which probably is the oldest organ in German, possibly in the world. It is said that some of the wood used in the organ dates back to 1415! CD notes are by the performer, Léon Berben, a specialist in early music who already has numerous recordings of this repertory. Almost all of the music is quietly stately. The rather frail sound of the ancient instrument has been well-caoptured in multi-channel sound. Don't expect organ fireworks here! Those interested in the history of the organ will wish to investigate this fine disk of music written for the instrument more than five centuries ago.

R.E.B. (June 2019)