Music Staff Picks
I was thrilled to discover this exceptional 1975 performance of the rarely performed Bruckner 2. Giulini brings empathy to the performance without hyper-emotionalism. His intuitive grasp of the ubiquitous Bruckner spirituality makes this an enormously moving experience for the listener. Beautifully remastered, this CD is an exceptional find. - Samantha
Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Mariss Jansons, conductor. RCO Live, $43.99, (2008).
Its difficult to find Bruckner's 3rd and 4th Symphonies paired on the same CD. This RCO Live recording does this with masterful performances by Mariss Jansons and the RCO. The 3rd Symphony was dedicated to Wagner though Bruckner ultimately removed the references to his hero. The influence of Beethoven's 9th is evident in its opening passages. The 4th, though subtitled "the Romantic" and written in e flat major is as brooding as it is hopeful. Jansons has chosen the Nowak editions of the scores for both symphonies. This is an exceptional recording that I highly recommend. -Samantha
Berlioz: Symphonie Fantastique. Philharmonia Orchestra; Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor. Signum Classics, $18.99 (2010).
The Symphonie Fantastique (An Episode in the Life of an Artist) tells a story - that of a young man who loves in vain, obsessed with the very idea of the woman until his tragic end. For this reason, this work has the structure and feel of a ballet score more than a conventional symphony. It is a lovely composition and Esa-Pekka Salonen leads the Philharmonia Orchestra in a masterful interpretation. On this live recording, the Symphony is paired with Beethoven's Leonore Overture No.2. This is no accident. Berlioz is said to have been completely bowled over by this, the most expansive of the Leonore Overtures, so it is fitting that they are presented together on this great recording. -Samantha