Kurt Sanderling

Kurt Sanderling: Legendary Recordings [Box Set]

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AllMusic Review by James Leonard

The picture of East German conductor Kurt Sanderling revealed in this 16-disc collection is that of a superlative, if inconsistent, conductor. His 1960 recording with the Dresden Staatskapelle of Borodin's Symphony No. 2 and In the Steppes of Central Asia plus Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture is breathtaking in its immense lyricism and power. Next to that achievement, his oddly monotonous 1963 version of Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 is a halting puzzle. The difference does not appear to be specific to composers: Sanderling's Mahler Ninth with the Berliner Sinfonie-Orchester from 1979 is extremely affecting, but his Mahler Tenth with the same orchestra from the same year falls flat. Sanderling's Shostakovich from the late '70s and early '80s is often more fully realized than his Sibelius from the same period, but his lightly ironic Shostakovich First is less persuasive than his darkly tragic Sibelius First. Those who deeply admire Sanderling's work will want to check out this set. Others may want to pick and choose. Though better in the '70s than in the '60s or '80s, Edel's sound is generally clear enough to hear most of what's going on.

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