What with the demise of recording companies and formation of in-house labels, many a run-of-the-mill concert is perpetuated nowadays when previously it was allowed to live and die a natural death under the Ancien Regime and rightly so.
I have no doubt that Stanislaw Skrowaczewski adores Bruckner – much like St Paul upon his arrival at Damascus, it took the Polish conductor a few days to recover from his first exposure to Bruckner. Nevertheless, I’ve yet to hear anything extraordinary from his baton in this domain. This live B5 from the Royal Festival Hall (October 2015) fails to change my opinion. High competence is evident and not much more. For all the grip and reverence on offer, it’s not memorable in a strong field. Much of it can be attributed to the shortcomings of the LPO. To give but three examples, the slow introduction of the first movement, where Bruckner replicates the Big Bang, is blighted by a recessed timpani; the brass antiphon at...
Before writing this review I put on Skrowaczewski's Saarbruck recording (Arte Nova/Oehms) for comparison. Unbelievable the difference.
For me, it's the complicated, double fugue finale that makes or breaks the performance. First Skrowaczewski's earlier effort just flows naturally and effortlessly. The finale here from the Londoners defines lumpy. Also seems a good deal slower. At least I wanted them to speed up! The final peroration is such a non happening, where in saarbrucken, you're standing in excitement.
So some of the blame has to fall at the feet of one of my most respected musicians. He clearly is implicit in not getting his Englishpeople to play like a Germanic orchestra.
But let's talk about the orchestra. In Saarbrucken, it sounds like fewer strings than in London, but they play so sweetly and with beautiful tone. The Saarbrucken brass are prominent and well blended-they don't erase memories of Chicago's in their prime, but they play...
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