BRUCKNER:  Symphony No. 1 in C Minor (Linz Version Ed. Nowak).  Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (1877 Version).  Symphony No. 3 in D Minor (1888-89 Version).  Symphony No. 4 in E Flat "Romantic" (Ed. Nowak).  Symphony No. 5 in B Flat (1878 Version).  Symphony No. 6 in A (Original version).  Symphony No. 7 in E (Ed. Nowak).  Symphony No. 8 in C Minor.  Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (Ed. Nowak).
Staatskapelle Dresden; Eugen Jochum, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 73905 (9 CDs) (B) TT:  9 hours 19 min.
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VAUGHAN WILLIAMS:  A Sea Symphony (Symphony No. 1) (Sheila Armstrong, soprano; John Carol Case, baritone).  A London Symphony (Symphony No. 2).  A Pastoral Symphony (Symphony No. 3) (Margaret Price, soprano).  Symphony No. 4 in F Minor.  Symphony No. 5 in D.  Symphony No. 6 in E Minor.  Sinfonia antartica (Symphony No. 7) (Norma Burrowes, soprano; London Philharmonic Choir).  Symphony No. 8 in D Minor.  Symphony No. 9 in E Minor. Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas TallisThe Wasps (Aristophanic Suite).  Serenade to Music. (Norma Burrowes, Sheila Armstrong, Susan Longfield, Marie Hayward, sopranos; Alfreda Hodgson, Gloria Jennings, Shirley Minty, Meriel Dickinson, contraltos; Ian Partridge, Bernard Dickerson, Wynford Evans, Kenneth Bowen, tenors; Richard Angas, John Carol Case, John Noble, Christopher Keyte, basses).  English Folk Song Suite.  Norfolk Rhapsody No. 1.  Fantasia on Greensleeves.  In the Fen Country.  The Lark Ascending (Hugh Bean, violinist).  Concerto for Two Pianos (Vitya Vronsky and Victor Babin, pianists).  Job:  A Masque for Dancing.
London Philharmonic, New Philharmonia and London Symphony Orchestras; Sir Adrian Boult, cond.
EMI CLASSICS  73924 (8 CDs) (B) TT:  8 hours 54 min.
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STRAUSS:  Horn Concertos 1 & 2; Duett-ConcertinoBurlesque.  Parergon zur Sinfonia Domestica, Op. 73.  Panathen”enzug, Op. 74.  Till Eulenspiegel's Lustige Streiche, Op. 28.  Don Juan, Op. 20. Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40.  Violin Concerto in D Minor, Op. 8.  Sinfonia Domestica, Op. 53.  Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30.  Tod und Verkl”rung, Op. 24.  Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier.  Dance of the Seven Veils from SalomeLe Bourgeois Gentilhomme Suite, Op. 60.  Waltz from Schlagobers, Op. 70.  Metamorphosen.  Eine Alpensinfonia, Op. 64.  Aus Italien, Op. 16.  Macbeth, Op. 23.  Don Quixote, Op. 35.  Dance Suite after Couperin.
Peter Damm, horn; Malcolm Frager & Peter R–sel, piano; Ulf Hoelscher, violin; Paul Tortelier, cello; Max Rostal, viola; Dresden State O/Rudolf Kempe, cond.
EMI CLASSICS 73614 (9 CDs) (B) TT:  10 hours 54 min.
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Three more incredibly valuable boxed sets at budget price from EMI!  Here we have all of the Bruckner symphonies except for Die Nullte in superlative performances by one of the recognized master interpreters of this music. Eugen Jochum made many commercial recordings of Bruckner symphonies with various orchestras mostly in Dresden, Berlin and Amsterdam and there are many live concert recordings as well, particularly in the Tahra set that offers Nos. 4, 6, 7 and 8 with the Concertgebouw (TAH162-170).  Many years ago Deutsche Grammophon issued a huge set of the Bruckner symphonies conducted by Jochum (that also omitted Die Nullte), Nos. 1, 4, 7, 8 and 9 with the Berlin Philharmonic, the others with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, all recorded 1964-1967.  This new EMI set contains the same symphonies in later recordings (1975-1980) made in Dresden, in a handsome slim-line single box about one-third the size of the DG issue, which took three multiple-CD jewel cases and cost considerably more than twice as much.

Sir Adrian Boult has long been considered the supreme interpreter of his countryman Ralph Vaughan Williams' music. There are no recordings of A Sea Symphony or Sinfonia Antartica superior to these. What a pleasure to have all of Boult's magnificent stereo recordings of this music gathered together including not only all nine symphonies and many other orchestral works plus the 1969 exquisite recording of Serenade to Music. Boult's earlier Decca mono recordings of most of this music were briefly issued on CD long out-of-print, so this issue is even more important. Texts are provided for Sea Symphony and Serenade to Music.

Rudolf Kempe's Strauss recordings from 1970-1976 have been praised ever since their initial issue about three decades ago.  As a comprehensive set this is unbeatable. However, there are many recordings of the major symphonic poems superior to the ones heard here, both in performance and sonics. These recordings were some of EMI's earliest attempts at multi-channel sound; two of them (Zarathustra/Alpine Symphony) have been issued on a DVD Audio Disk in discrete 4-channel sound (923969 -REVIEW) which is not very impressive, with aggressive highs and limited bass; the regular stereo CD sound is preferable. .  However here we have to opportunity to hear some of Strauss's relatively unknown works of which there are few recordings, particularly Parergon on the Domestic Symphony and Panathen”enzug, Op. 74, composed in in 1924/25 and 1926/27 respectively at the request of Paul Wittgenstein, written for left-hand piano and orchestra, both played by Peter R–sel.  We also have the Violin Concerto played by Ulf Hoelscher.  All three of these works are proof positive that even the most famous composers are on occasion guilty of the most boring note-spinning imaginable, in spite of the valiant efforts of Kempe and the fine soloists. Still there is much of interest in this budget-priced set which gathers together Strauss's symphonic output.

R.E.B. (December 2002)