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Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No.3 in E flat major Op.55 Eroica (1804) [49:27]
Egmont Overture Op.84 (1810) [8:04]
Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Te Deum in C major [20:05]
Frances Yeend (soprano); Martha Lipton (mezzo soprano); David Lloyd (tenor); Mack Harrel (baritone), Westminster Choir (Bruckner)
Symphony of the Air (Eroica), New York Philharmonic Orchestra (Egmont, Bruckner)/Bruno Walter
rec. 7 March 1953 (Bruckner), 4 December 1954 (Egmont), 3 February 1957 (Eroica)
ARCHIPEL ARPCD0370 [77:40]



Archipel’s note-less reissue is unhelpful. The booklet shows the conductor’s name sitting on top of the rubric “To the Memory of Arturo Toscanini” and beneath it the three works; the Eroica, Egmont, and the Bruckner Te Deum. In the bottom right hand corner of the booklet is a single date, 3 February 1957, and the lines “Bruno Walter conducts Symphony of the Air”.
 
But it’s really all very straightforward. The Eroica is from the 1957 memorial concert to Toscanini, who had died eighteen days before. That concert has just been reissued in full by Music and Arts [1201 – a two CD set] and it includes Monteux conducting the Enigma Variations and Munch’s La Mer as well as the Eroica and the contents of a 1954 benefit recording. So Archipel has extracted the Eroica from the Memorial concert, added the 1954 Egmont overture and the 1953 Bruckner to form a disc around Walter.
 
The Eroica is a fine, grave and impressive performance. The Symphony of the Air (ex NBC) plays with fervour and power for Walter, though the New York Philharmonic played with just as much control and eloquence in the recording Walter made with them when he re-recorded the symphony commercially. There’s actually very little to choose between the two readings and the very considerable virtues Walter espoused in this score are only reinforced by the consistency of his approach. It would be fair to note however that the studio recording is the better recorded. The Egmont overture receives a trenchant, assured reading.
 
Bruckner’s Te Deum has made the rounds often enough – most visibly on Sony Classics, where I last encountered it on SK92737 coupled with the Columbia Symphony recording of the Ninth Symphony. Walter’s control of the Te Deum is first class in every way; pacing is fine, climaxes are pointed, the sonority is always appropriate and balanced; the organ is well meshed into the sound stage. His soloists are committed and though they aren’t in truth the neatest or tidiest quartet; eventful though, and characterful. The Westminster Choir makes a fine showing with unanimity of attack and sonorous depth into the bargain.
 
The sound here is serviceable but as mentioned above there are no notes. All the performances however show Walter at something near his very best.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 



 

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