Eduard van Beinum’s performances of Bruckner were extraordinary in a most inconspicuous way. He never took liberties with the score, did not like to exaggerate, was spontaneous and always strove to achieve the crucial transitions in Bruckner’s work as seamlessly as possible. Bassoonist,Brian Pollard who worked with Van Beinum as a member of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, described the sound as ‘dark and red with beautiful russet hues’. Warmth above clarity was, according to Pollard, Van Beinum’s first priority. This 4CD set brings together four 1950s Bruckner symphony recordings for Decca and Philips. No. 7 was recorded twice for Decca – the first (acoustic) recording in 1947 and the second (represented in this set) in 1953. Riccardo Chailly described the recording as ‘noble through and through’.
By the time Van Beinum and the Concertgebouw came to record Nos. 8 and 9, in 1955 and 1956 respectively, the orchestra had been making recordings for the ‘home’ label, Philips, for the whole decade. No. 8 was Van Beinum’s first recording for Philips. No. 7 has an unusual provenance. It is a live recording made in March 1959, Van Beinum’s last Bruckner performance with his orchestra, before his premature death a month later. Urged on by music lovers who had cherished memories of the broadcast, former NCRV broadcasting company employee, Cornelius van Zwol, started to search for the radio tape which he found just before it was due to be erased. It here receives its first international release on CD. Liner notes are by the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Van Beinum authority, Niek Nelissen.
Symphony No. 5 in B flat major
Symphony No. 7 in E major
Symphony No. 8 in C minor
Symphony No. 9 in D minor
Eduard van Beinum
Recording Producers: John Culshaw (No. 7); Jaap van Ginneken (Nos. 8 & 9); unknown (No. 5)
Balance Engineers: Kenneth Wilkinson (No. 7); unknown (Nos. 5, 8, 9)
Recording Location: Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, May 1953 (No. 7); 6–9 June 1955 (No. 8); 17–19 June 1956 (No. 9); 12 March 1959 (No. 5: Live Recording by KRO)
‘Full justice is done to the passages of thickly-scored brass and Van Beinum is at his best when moulding expansive themes such as the first subject of the first movement. … the conductor’s interpretation is without exception authoritative and full of grandeur’ (No. 7) Gramophone
‘This is the outstanding issue of the month … throughout, its playing is of great intensity, power and beauty.’ (No. 8) E.M.G. ‘Monthly Letter’
‘Van Beinum sustains its blazing intensity in a masterful reading …. The recording reproduces the sonorous richness of the Concergebouw’s superb playing’ (No. 8) Music and Musicians
‘Van Beinum handles the whole spaciously and sensitively’ (No. 8) Gramophone
‘calm flowing tempo … great line’ (No. 9) Luister
‘a fine, thoughtful reading’ (No. 9) Gramophone