Bruckner From the Archives, Volume 1 – A Remarkable Series

This is a remarkable project constructed from some remarkable sources. It’s a complete survey of Bruckner’s eleven symphonies (along with other key works). Each of the six volumes will comprise of two CDs — over 2 hours of music each.

And the sources are equally remarkable. There are some world recording premieres and some CD premieres. The source material comes from the archive of John Berky, president of the Bruckner Society of America. 

Culled from over 11,000 recordings, the performances here are rare. Yet each delivers a strong performance of Bruckner’s music. 

The works in volume one come from 1862-63. Bruckner was in his forties. He was already an established choral composer and organist. He wanted to write symphonies, and so began an intense period of study. Technically the works on this release are student pieces. But they work very well as legitimate compositions. 

The String Quartet, WAB 111 shows Bruckner’s grasp of form and his lyrical gifts. The recording comes from a 1951 NDR aircheck with the Koeckert Quartet. The practice Symphony in F minor WAB 99 is another revelation. 

Though competently written, it doesn’t hint at the symphonies to come. Rather, it’s a Mendelssohn/Brahms-like work that provides a pleasant listen. Kurt Woss and the Bruckner Orchestra, Linz give a sympathetic reading in this 1974 aircheck. 

Bruckner’s first symphony is also represented. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Eugen Jochum performs. This is the original version of this work, the “Linz” version. 

Kudos go to Lani Spahr, responsible for the audio restoration and remastering. The recordings range from 1944 to 1974. Spahr does a great job bringing these tracks close to the same sound. You can still hear the differences between the decades, but they’re not jarring. 

Rarely heard Bruckner in rarely-heard performances. This is my kind of series!

Anton Bruckner: From the Archives, Volume 1 
Bruckner Orchestra, Linz; Kurt Woss, conductor 
Vienna Symphony Orchestra; Hans Weisbach, conductor 
Vienna Akademie Kammerchor, Vienna Symphony Orchestra; Henry Swoboda, conductor 
WDR Symphony Orchestra Koln; Dean Dixon, conductor 
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra; Eugen Jochum, conductor 
Koeckert Quartet 
Somm Recordings, Ariadne 5025-2

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