Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 2 – Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Dausgaard (2010) [Official Digital Download 24bit/44,1kHz]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 2 – Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Thomas Dausgaard (2010)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 61:38 minutes | 502 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical.com | Digital Booklet | @ BIS
Recorded: January 2009 at the Örebro Concert Hall, Sweden

On disc as well as in concert, Thomas Dausgaard and his Swedish Chamber Orchestra have attracted a growing international interest. The team regularly visits some of the world’s leading concert venues, and just recently their performance of Schumann’s Second Symphony at the BBC Proms made a great impact on audience and critics alike. Precisely Schumann’s symphonies have featured in Dausgaard’s and the SCO’s series ‘Opening Doors’ on BIS, in which Romantic symphonies are performed with smaller than usual numbers – to great critical acclaim: ‘The most perceptive Schumann cycle in over three decades’ was the verdict in International Record Review. The sequel to the Schumann recordings was a disc combining Schubert’s Unfinished and Great C major Symphonies, described in BBC Radio 3’s CD Review as ‘a crisp, clean account that somehow seems to strip away layers of silt to get a clear view of the colours underneath.’ Dausgaard and the forty-odd members of the SCO now take on a composer whose symphonies often are regarded as the epitome of Romantic grandeur, not to say bulkiness – Anton Bruckner, and his Second Symphony. The recording thus becomes a sort of test of how the ‘Opening Doors’ concept can be applied to music from the High Romantic period. Thomas Dausgaard himself finds in this work ‘a feeling of a very personal prayer – as if Bruckner was meditating and improvising at the organ’ and goes on to describe the experience of performing it with the SCO as ‘a kind of collective chamber-musical improvisation with a strong symphonic undercurrent. I hope Bruckner would have liked it…’

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Anton Bruckner – Symphony No 4 ‘Romantic’ – Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vanska (2010) [Official Digital Download 24bit/44,1kHz]

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No 4 ‘Romantic’ – Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vanska (2010)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 63:21 minutes | 514 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical.com | Digital Booklet | @ BIS
Recorded: January 2009 at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, Minnesota, US

Symphony No.4 in E-flat major has belonged to Anton Bruckner’s most popular works ever since its first performance, in Vienna 1881, when the composer was reportedly called out to take a bow after each movement. It is often called the ‘Romantic’, a nickname that Bruckner himself used, most probably in reference to the literary genre of the medieval romance, rather than to the concept of romantic love. Indeed, Bruckner is claimed to have provided a sort of programme to the work, setting the scene for its opening as follows: ‘Medieval town – first daylight – on proud chargers knights sally forth … the wonder of nature surrounds them …’ What was performed in Vienna in 1881 was a second, revised version of the symphony, which had actually already seen first light in 1874. In spite of the success of the revised version, further revisions took place before publication, resulting in the so-called ‘1888 version’ recorded here. Although this remained the preferred version for several decades, it later became discredited, as it was assumed that the revisions it contained were the product of others than the composer himself. The rehabilitation of the 1888 version is to a large extent due to the efforts of the musicologist Benjamin Korstvedt, who in 2004 prepared the first modern edition of the 1888 version for the Bruckner Collected Works edition. In his liner notes to the present disc, Korstvedt discusses this background, giving a number of interesting illustrations of the differences between editions.

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Benjamin Britten – String Quartets Nos 1 & 3 – Emperor String Quartet (2013) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Benjamin Britten – String Quartets Nos 1 & 3 – Emperor String Quartet (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 55:40  minutes | 508 MB | Genre: Classical
Official Digital Download – Source: eClassical.com | Digital Booklet | @ BIS
Recorded: May 2005 at Potton Hall, Suffolk, England

Himself a string player and dedicated chamber musician, Benjamin Britten wrote a large amount of music for string quartet as a student and budding composer. One such early work is Alla marcia, originally intended as a part of a suite but then left as a stand-alone miniature unpublished in the composer’s lifetime. This parodistic march resurfaced in 1939, however, in Britten’s setting of Rimbaud’s sardonic poem Parade in Les illuminations for soprano and string orchestra. On this second disc of the Emperor Quartet’s survey of Britten’s music for string quartet, Alla marcia appears as an interlude between the first and the last of Britten’s three published string quartets. String Quartet No.1 in D major Op.25 was composed in the summer of 1941, and it is easy to read into it something of Britten’s feverish state of mind at the time – although he was living in the USA at the time, news from the war in Europe was deeply troubling and Britten was already contemplating his return to England, even though his pacifist stance was certain to cause him problems there. Four years later the Op.25 quartet was followed by String Quartet No.2, written in response to the 250th anniversary of Henry Purcell’s death, but after that three decades would pass before Britten’s return to the genre. Completed in December 1975, String Quartet No.3 Op.94 became one of his last, as well as one of his finest compositions. With a structure reminiscent of the lyric suites by Alban Berg and other Viennese composers, the five-movement work ends with a Recitative and Passacaglia subtitled La Serenissima as a salute to Britten’s beloved Venice. The first disc in this series of three was released in 2010, and included a performance of the Second String Quartet described as ‘stupendous’ in Classic FM Magazine and ‘magnificent’ in Scherzo, while the reviewer in Fono Forum likened it to ‘an entire cosmos of colours and nuances’.

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Johannes Brahms – String Quartets Nos. 1 & 3 – Artemis Quartet (2015) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Johannes Brahms – String Quartets Nos. 1 & 3 – Artemis Quartet (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:08:21 minutes | 1,17 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | @ Warner Classics/Erato

The Artemis Quartet pairs Brahms’ intense First Quartet with his lighter-spirited Third Quartet, both works that the Artemis’ cellist, Eckart Runge, describes as “remarkable and multi-faceted”. He says that “Brahms marries a Romantic spirit with the structure and forms of Classicism. There is an almost symphonic approach in the writing, but at the same time the quartets are imbued with a sense of warmth, immediacy, friendship and love that is interwoven with a more spiritual, timeless beauty”.

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Georges Bizet – L’Arlesienne Suite, Carmen Suite – Paris Conservatoire Orchestra, Andre Cluytens (1964/2012) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Georges Bizet – L’Arlesienne Suite, Carmen Suite – Paris Conservatoire Orchestra, Andre Cluytens (1964/2012)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 45:33 minutes | 925 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Master, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | @ EMI Classics

Conductor: Andre Cluytens
Orchestra: Orchestre De La Societe Des Concerts Du Conservatoire

(In Stereo)
Andre Clutyens conducts the Orchestra De La Societe Des Concerts Du Conservatoire through two works by Bizet, his L’Arlesienne and Carmen Suites. These two masterpieces have melodic and instrumental similarities that are brought to an emotional climax through Clutyens’ guidance. The remastered sound captures every nuance and instrumental subtleties. A masterful performance!

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