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CD Review

Liszt, Wagner & Bruckner

Ferdinand Koch, tenor
Southwest German Radio Orchestra/Jascha Horenstein
Pro Musica Orchestra, Vienna/Jascha Horenstein
Vox Legends CDX5504 ADD 1992 2CDs: 77:40, 76:41
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This is one of the most desirable reissues in Vox's admirable Horenstein collection. Perhaps it must be on a personal note as I was weaned on Bruckner's 8th through this recording many years back, one of the most important musical experiences of my life!

Horenstein's "Faust' Symphony is a brisk affair lasting almost 67 minutes. He is slightly slower than the excellent Masur (GLO/81/EMI) and 7 minutes faster than the similarly excellent Bernstein (Boston Symphony Orchestra/DG 1974). The Vox recording is trenchant and direct, with startling clarity to the string section. The concluding movement is alive with beauty and a suitable heroic conclusion, although the chorus is rather backwardly placed.

The Bruckner 8 is a miraculous experience. I mush prefer this version than the live one on BBC Legends for Horenstein's cut and thrust approach that works wonders, especially in the wonderful Adagio. The first two movements are dazzling in their speed and grandeur, lasting just about 27 minutes in all they convey a sense of unbearable tension all around.

In the Finale, Horenstein is almost Knappertsbush like in his architectural vision of this gargantuan tapestry of sound. The concluding pages are of an awe-inspiring nature and the Pro Musica really play with love and respect for their master. Thankfully, Vox have reproduced Joseph Braunstein's detailed scholarly notes that are essential reading for any Brucknerian. This is a winner on all counts including a well played and rarely heard, 'Faust Overture' by the young Wagner.

Copyright © 2007, Gerald Fenech