ANTON BRUCKNER - 10 Symphonies

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ANTON BRUCKNER - 10 Symphonies - Lorin Maazel (Conductor) - Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra - 11 CD Box-Set - 4035719007114 - Released: December 2010 - BR Klassik 900711

Recorded in concert in Munich from 20 January to 20 March 1999

During the 1980s after his brief tenure at the Vienna State Opera, Lorin Maazel retained the services of three London Orchestras to perform a complete cycle of the Beethoven symphonies in a single day. He wore white tie and athletic shoes for the event. Norman Lebrecht quoted him as saying, "This is going to test my theory that conducting is, among other things, a sport. You've got to be fit to conduct. And if you haven't learned to conserve your energies in concert, you're in the wrong profession." At the age of 69, and evidently still very fit, Maazel embarked on a similarly daunting orchestral marathon: a traversal of the Anton Bruckner symphonies (excluding the F minor or '00') in a concert series lasting two months. This maximum effort was a huge success with critics and public alike. And record collectors worldwide are now the beneficiaries of the expert digital recordings made by Bavarian radio engineers. Maazel uses the Leopold Nowak Edition of the scores throughout.

Maazel certainly chose the right orchestra to undertake this demanding musical journey. Although only 50 years old at the time of these performances, the Bavarian RSO inherited a natural 'München' approach to Bruckner. The performing tradition was handed down from their first chief conductor, Eugen Jochum. Every section of the orchestra demonstrates its strength and sensitivity here. Ten concerts and not one of them could be considered indifferent. Lorin Maazel deserves all praise for instigating the series and guiding the realization of each work so successfully. This is Bruckner to live with. A fine booklet note by Benjamin Gunnar-Cohrs, co-editor of the Bruckner complete edition, Vienna, sets the seal of quality on this jolly green box.

With this worthy addition, we are spoiled for choice in the bargain box Bruckner selection. For Symphonies 1-9, Herbert von Karajan with the BPO remains a perennial favourite (DG) and RCA have just re-released Günter Wand's Cologne RSO cycle from the 1980s. And Stanislaw Skrowaczewski's Saarbrücken cycle from Oehms Classics (including '00', the Overture in G minor and the conductor's orchestration of the Adagio from the String Quartet in F Major as estimable bonuses) should not be overlooked by serious Brucknerians. Bear in mind that the newcomer from Munich is the only bargain set in wall-to-wall live performances with all of the tension and sense of occasion entailed in flesh and blood concert events.

Stephen Habington - January 2011