Bruno Walter

Wagner: Siegfried Idyll; Bruckner: Symphony No. 9

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There are at least three extant recordings of Bruno Walter leading Bruckner's Ninth. The classic, of course, is his searing final account with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra (aka, the Los Angeles Philharmonic) from 1959. But his 1946 reading with the New York Philharmonic and especially this 1957 performance given at Carnegie Hall as part of Walter's farewell appearances with New York's Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra also have their fans. Released here by Music & Arts and coupled with Wagner's Siegfried Idyll from the same concert, the 1957 performance is given new life in aged but clear and deep remastered sound. At this point in his career, Walter was slower than he had been but not as slow as he would be, and his tempos here are as massive as his forms are monumental. Still, the inner intensity of Walter's lines always keeps the music moving forward and the expansive lyricism of his interpretation makes the work's rugged integrity immensely appealing. The New York musicians perform with admirable dedication, and while their playing sometimes betrays their relative unfamiliarity with the score, their manifest affection for the conductor gives their performance an undeniable sincerity. Walter's smoothly flowing reading of Wagner's piece d'occasion makes a wonderful disc mate, and any listener who reveres the conductor's way with Bruckner or Wagner who does not already know these performances is urged to seek out this disc.

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