BRUCKNER:  Symphony No. 5 in B Flat.  Symphony No. 7 in E.  Symphony No. 8 in C minor.  Symphony No. 9 in D minor.
Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orch/Eduard van Beinum, cond.

PHILIPS 464 950 (4 CDs) (B) (ADD) TT:  71:26 / 58:55 / 72:28 / 58:58

This is a valuable set for those not familiar with Van Beinum's Bruckner as it contains his three commercial recordings (Nos. 7, 8 and 9) as well as the live recording of Symphony No. 5.  The latter is from a concert March 12, 1959, previously available in the long-deleted 8-LP Philips set "The Art of Eduard van Beinum" (Philips 6768 023) and, later, as a component of  the fine book Bruckner en het Koninklijk Concertgebouw-orkest, where it was an inset in the cover -- a rather expensive way to acquire the performance.

The Eighth was included on Beinum's  first official concert with the Concertgebouw in 1931, so his keen interest in Bruckner was right from the beginning of his 27-year association with the Orchestra. He uses the Robert Haas version of the score rather than the Nowak used by Eugen Jochum.  According to the comprehensive book, Beinum conducted the Fifth 11 times, the Seventh 43 times, the Eighth 30, and there were 18 performances of the Ninth.  Philips issued the Eighth and Ninth on CD for the first time in 1995 (442 730 and 442 731 respectively); now these are included in this new set, along with the live Fifth and the Decca May 1953 recording of the Seventh, previously available on a difficult-to-find Japanese Decca CD (POCL 4589).  There are several fine transfers of Beinum's initial recording of the Seventh for 78s, made in  September 1947, notably on Dutton and TAHRA.

These are magnificent performances, well recorded, deserving a spot in any serious Bruckner collection.  Issued currently only in The Netherlands, the 4-CD set, handsomely packaged in a small box with separate sleeves for each CD, with a 26-page booklet, is an incredible bargain, costing less than US $20, including shipping.  It can be ordered from Kuijper Klassiek.  A fantastic bargain, to say the least!!!

R.E.B. (Oct. 2000)