Rafael Kubelik was one of our foremost interpreters of Dvorak and other great Czech composers such as Smetana and Janacek. His critically acclaimed 1960's Dvorak symphony Deutsche Grammophon cycle was reissued several years ago as a budget-priced collection.
The reappearance of this DG set means that once again both of Eugen Jochum’s Bruckner symphony cycles are available at the same price level. The EMI cycle was recorded in 1975-80 with the Dresden Staatskapelle, while DG’s was taped primarily in the 1960s with the Bavarian Radio Symphony and the Berlin Philharmonic. There’s little to choose between the two interpretively, as Jochum pretty much maintained his individualistic approach to Bruckner throughout his career. So, take away the uniquely burnished tones of the Dresden brass and for the most part you’ve got two identical cycles (type Q2340 in Search Reviews for a detailed appraisal of the EMI set, as released by Musical Heritage Society).
Conductor Philippe Herreweghe returns to the helm of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic for another set of Beethoven symphonies on the PentaTone label, this time the First and Third. Again presented as a multi-channel SACD hybrid disc, PentaTone's sound is clean and detailed without too much digital sterility. Unlike the album that included the Fifth Symphony and was fraught with many rhythmic peculiarities, Herreweghe's reading of the First and Third symphonies seems diligently respectful to every nuance of the score.
"Conducting the Wiener Philarmoniker 's always been something absolutely unique, starting from my debut in Salisburgo after studying in Vienna. Wondeful string section, great musical tradition and deep understanding of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Strauss' music are typical of this group. It's a true joy making music with them. I am always very grateful when I conduct the Wieners at Musikverein or Staatsoper. It's like coming home." (Claudio Abbado)
Mikhail Pletnev is a brilliant musician, an amazing pianist and an idiosyncratic conductor, and he has made a glorious mess of the Beethoven symphonies. The seesawing of tempos in this compelling, driving and sometimes shocking set induce now motion sickness, now awe . . . it demands to be heard.
Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times / 30. November 2007