The Dresden Staatskapelle has a living Bruckner tradition, stretching back a century and more, which is lovingly curated by its new music director, Christian Thielemann, who is himself a powerful advocate for the composer’s symphonies as the pinnacle of the Austro-German tradition; and in particular for the Wagnerian resonances of the Seventh, whose Adagio was shaped by news of Wagner’s death in Venice. Hugo Wolf was also deeply affected by that news; his songs, like Bruckner’s symphonies, can be seen as oblique reflections on the influence of Wagner, especially when sung, as they are here by Renée Fleming, with the utmost delicacy and intimacy.
…Because Janowski and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande have had great successes with this and the last two Bruckner symphonies, listeners in search of great performances should give them a try, and audiophiles should regard them as required listening.
Recordings of Bruckner’s last and greatest Mass are not exactly scarce but this most recent live performance from the celebrated Ebrach festival has claim to being regarded as special, not just for its own considerable merits, but also as it is presented by Profil in a double CD package in tandem with the barely known Psalm 146 and the further bonus of conductor-musicologist and performer Gerd Schaller playing six works on the Eisenbarth organ in the Abteikirche.
Bruckner's early string quartet is more a composition exercise than a full-fledged work of art, but the quintet is something else entirely: a chamber music masterpiece to rank with the great symphonies in expressive intensity and sheer musical grandeur. Indeed, there are a few places where Bruckner seems to demand an almost orchestral volume of tone, and the slow movement has been successful performed (and recorded) by a full string orchestra. The Intermezzo is none other than an alternative scherzo for the quintet, composed because the original players at the premier found Bruckner's first thoughts too difficult. Well, the members of L'Archibudelli certainly don't find the music too difficult–you won't find better performances anywhere.