Matthias Schorn / Nicholas Milton / Innviertler Symphony Orchestra

Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A, K. 622; Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 in C minor

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Recorded in concert August 31 and September 1, 2012, these performances of the Clarinet Concerto in A major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the Symphony No. 8 in C minor by Anton Bruckner may seem like a mismatched pair for this twofer from ISO, but most listeners will probably hear the pieces over two sittings, so the program is not as daunting as it may at first appear. Certainly, the separation of the works on two CDs invites discretionary treatment, so there's no reason to criticize the program for its length or the stylistic imbalance of the pieces. Taken on its own, the Clarinet Concerto receives a warm and cheerful interpretation by clarinetist Matthias Schorn, who gives a rather free demonstration of his skills and playful personality. The performance is conventional and straightforward, with no effort made toward authentic historical practice, though it is quite likely that an audience waiting to hear Bruckner's Eighth isn't one that would necessarily demand a period performance of Mozart anyway. The weighty symphony receives a traditional interpretation, but because it is handled with extraordinary gravitas and expressive power, it is precisely what a Bruckner audience in Austria would expect to hear. Nicholas Milton and the Innviertler Symphony Orchestra are utterly immersed in this music, and the towering climaxes and brooding transitions come across as fully realized and inevitable. These may not be the finest recordings of either piece, because the sound is not as clear or spacious as it should be, but they are satisfying in their spontaneity and emotional depth, and discerning listeners will enjoy this album immensely.

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