10 Best Recordings of Bruckner 8 (Part One)


Musikfest Berlin 2017 opens today with Bruckner 8 performed by Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim. You can hear the concert live from Berliner Philharmonie on RBB Klassik Radio here.

It is said of Anton Bruckner that he liked to occupy the seats in opera houses where his view of the stage was blocked by pillars. He allegedly also liked to study piano scores of musical and dramatic works only with the text hidden. Dramatic interest moved him, but only if it took a musical form. Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony could claim to verify these anecdotes. This dramatic musical work fills an entire evening alone. Scenic, pictorial representations are sublimated to a great extent. Wherever they appear, such as very clearly during the scherzo or as the finale begins, the movement is particularly decorative and elaborately refined. The idea and structure of the final section is similar to an opera finale, since all the significant elements of the symphony unite here once again.

1. Carl Schuricht with Wiener Philharmoniker (1963)

2. Eugen Jochum with Staatskapelle Dresden (1976)

3. Günter Wand with NDR-Sinfonieorchester (1987)

4. Sergiu Celibidache with Münchner Philharmoniker (1993)

5. Stanisław Skrowaczewski with Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbruecken (1993)

Here is a very good deal on the Bruckner recordings on CD.

This series is aimed at finding the best recordings of a particular work and our research team try to find lesser known releases that are on par with the most iconic recordings of the work. Thus, there will be less Furtwängler, Kleiber and Karajan than you normally see on this type of recommendation lists. However, we must mention this recording of Bruckner 8 as well:

Herbert von Karajan with Wiener Philharmoniker (1988)

John Cage – Music Of Changes (1951)


Music Of Changes I

Music Of Changes II

Music Of Changes III

Music Of Changes IV

Piano – Pi-Hsien Chen
Recorded April 2nd, 3rd & 5th, 2012.

Music of Changes dates from 1951, the watershed year in John Cage’s development, when he began to eliminate any element of personal choice in his compositions by relying on indeterminacy – in this case the I Ching, the Chinese book of divination – to generate his music. Pi-Hsien Chen interleaves the four books of the Music of Changes with nine of Scarlatti’s keyboard sonatas, which she plays mostly in pairs. The juxtaposition works wonderfully. The cut-glass precision of Scarlatti’s binary forms and the springy leanness of his keyboard writing contrast beautifully with the irregular, multilayered sound masses of Cage’s pieces. What links them here, though, is the sense of buoyancy and alertness that characterises all of Chen’s playing, in which every rhythm seems freshly imagined and every texture like a discovery, so that Scarlatti’s sonatas, poised between the baroque and the classical, seem every bit as radical as Cage’s pieces.

Andrew Clements – The Guardian

Oscar Hylén – String Quartet in D-major (1870)


Oscar Hylén (1846 – disappeared 1886) student to Berwald.

Work: String Quartet in D-major (1870)

Mov.I: Allegro
Mov.II: Andante
Mov.III: Scherzo: Allegro
Mov.IV: Final: Molto allegro quasi presto

Ensemble: Frydénkvartetten

Oscar Hylén (1846-1886) was born in Stockholm where he entered the Royal Swedish Conservatory. Among his several teachers was the fairly well-known composer Franz Berwald from whom he studied composition. Several of his early works were performed with success shortly after he graduated from the Conservatory. Among these was his String Quartet in D Major which dates from 1870. Although these works were well received he had difficulty making a reputation for himself. Besides composing, he pursued a career as a teacher and conductor of a Swedish touring orchestra. The Quartet was published twice, first in the early 1870’s and then again around 1900 but each time it disappeared. It was rediscovered in the 1960’s and had a brief moment of revival before disappearing yet again.

In four movements—the energetic first movement, Allegro, begins with a bang and then races forward with great elan. A lovely Andante of vocal quality comes next. the third movement is a Scherzo allegro with finely contrasting trio. A dance-like finale, Molto allegro, quasi presto, concludes the quartet.

Although this quartet is strong enough to stand on its own merits without considering whether it is historically important, the fact is that it is historically important because there were very few Swedish string quartets composed before 1870 and this one serves as a good example of musical developments in Sweden at that time.

Read more about the composer here.

10 Best Recordings of Beethoven 7 (Part 2)


Here is part 2 of our choice of the 10 best recordings of Beethoven’s Sympony No. 7 composed in 1811-12.

The listing is chronological.

6. Frans Brüggen with Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century (2011)

7. Daniel Barenboim with West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (2011)

8. Mariss Jansons with Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (2012)

9. Martin Haselbock with Wiener Akademie Orchester (2015)

10. Herbert Blomstedt with Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (2015)

Buy the recording here.

Grażyna Bacewicz – Divertimento For Strings (1970)

Bacewicz/ Baird/ Górecki/ Paciorkiewicz – Works Composed For The Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra.
Label: Polskie Nagrania Muza ‎- XL 0586.
Released: 1970, Poland

Conductor – Karol Teutsch.
Orchestra – Orkiestra Kameralna Filharmonii Narodowej.

A5. Allegro
A6. Adagio
A7. Giocoso

Recorded from an Technics 1210 MKII / Ortofon 2M Red cartridge,
into the NAD PP-3 Phono Preamp, and finally into an EMU 1212M PC Music Card.

Vagn Holmboe – Eco, op. 186 (1991)

Few composers of the twentieth century were as consistent as Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996). Through out his long life he wrote music with a Zen-like balance between intellect and nature. His tonal idiom is an unmistakable concentrate that translucently combines modernism and the classical legacy with a great love of traditional folk music.

Holmboe’s music never becomes academic. It buds, grows, blossoms and contracts in an organic process that he called metamorphosis. The metamorphosis technique is quite natural to me, and it is interrelated with many things that slowly seep in through a life lived with nature,\ explained Holmboe, who was a true lover of nature. He lived for most of his life in the countryside, and planted 3000 trees with his own hands on his property by the lake Arresø in northern Zealand.

The clarinet trio Eco, op. 186 from 1991 is one of his last works. It was written for the classic configuration of clarinet, cello and piano that Beethoven and Brahms also used, and the three-movement form too is thoroughly classical.