BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 3 in D minor. WAGNER: Tannhäuser Overture.
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Andris Nelsons, cond.
DGG 002894797208 TT: 75:48
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DVORÁK: Stabat Mater, Op. 58
Eri Nakamura, soprano. Elisabeth Kullman, mezzo-soprano. Michael Spyres, tenor Jongmin, bass. Prague Philharmonic Chorus. Czech Philharmonic Orchestra/Juri Belohlavek, cond.
DECCA 002894831410 2 disks TT: 83:06
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ANTHEIL: Over the Plains (1945). Symphony No. 4 "1942" (1942). Symphony No. 5 "Joyous." (1947 - 1948).
BBC Pilharmonic / Yuri Torchinsky (Over the Plains). John Storgards, cond.
CHANDOS CD CHAN 10941 TT: 65:45
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There surely is no shortage of recordings of Bruckner's symphonies. Daniel Barenboim has recorded all nine with Berlin Staatskapelle, and Eugen Jochum has recorded the complete cycle twice, first with Dresden Staatskapelle, second sharing the symphonies with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic (included in the recent DGG Eugen Jochum set (REVIEW). Christian Thielemann has videos of the last six symphonies with his Dresden Orchestra, and there are countless other recordings of various symphonies by mos of the great conductors of the past. Now a new series begins, with Andris Nelsons leading the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. He first conducted them in 2011 and has just been appointed their Music Director. He's a busy man, also music Director of the Boston Symphony and making many guest appearances in both concerts and opera. Surely this Bruckner cycle gets off to a strong start. The performance is marked by expressive phrasing, and the recoding made live in the Gewandhaus in June 2016 richly captures the sounds of Bruckner. The Wagner overture is given a passionate, sensuous reading that reaches a glorious climax. An outstanding release!

Dvorak's magnificent setting of the text of the Stabat Mater was written in 1875 after the death of the composers infant daughter. Stabat Mater is a work of reverent beauty, a favorite with choral groups. it has received countless recordings. The first was in 1952 with Václav Talich and the Czech Philharmonic. Since then most rewordings involve Prague. Conductors have included Václáv Smetácek, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Václav Neumann and Rafael Kubelik. It isn't often that a conductor has the opportunity to make multiple recordings of a large-scale choral work, but that is the case with Jirii Belohlavek. An acknowledged master of Czech repertory, this new issue is his fourt, made March 23- 25, 2016 in Prague's Dvorak Hall. Today it was announced that Behlolavek died in Prague at the age of 71 after a long illness. A major loss for the musical world, indeed. This recordings could be considered a memorial to him. It is unfortunate this was not issued in multi-track sound, which can be so effective in choral/symphonic works. The two disks sell for the price of one, and complete texts and translations are provided.

Two videos have been mentioned on this site, a Prague performance with Libor Pesek (REVIEW), and another Czech performance conducted by Vaclav Neumann (REVIEW).

Chandos has a welcome new release, the first in a series devoted to music of American composer George Antheil (1900 - 1959). This unjustly neglected composer was radical and innovative, shocking the musical world with some of his earlier works, particularly Ballet Méchanique. To read more about this brilliant composer and his achievements, including collaborating with Hedy Lamar on a torpedo venture, check our CD INDEX. You'll find reviews of Ballet Méchanique, A Jazz Symphony, piano concertos, and symphonies 4, 5 and 7, as well as a favorite of mine, the ballet Capital of the World. This new Chandos issues begins in jolly fashion with the premiere recording of the 1945 Over the Plains, dedicated to his wife Bo\öski. It is a pleasant piece that easily could be background music for a Western movie. Symphony No. 4 dates from 1942, also dedicated to Antheil's wife, is a troubled score depicting the tension and horrors of the world during war. The second movement is a meditation on the mass executions in Europe, the third movement "a brutal joke" scherzo, and the finale representing the triumph of the Allies. The symphony was premiered in a broadcast Feb. 13, 1944, with Leopold Stokowski and the NBC Symphony which has been issued on CD (REVIEW). Symphony No. 5 dates from 1947-1948 and appropriately is called "Joyous." It is a celebratory work in three movements dedicated to Norma Rather who was a close friend of his at time. John Storgards and the fine BBC Philharmonic give superlative performances of all of this music, and the Chandos engineers have done their usual superb job. Let us hope that future releases in this admirable Antheil series willl be on SACD,

R.E.B. (June 2017)