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Order number S 108 061
Kent Nagano: Schumann, Wagner, Strauss
Kent Nagano: Mendelssohn Bartholdy, Brahms, Schumann
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Johannes Dengler, Franz Draxinger, Rainer Schmitz, Maximilian Hochwimmer, solo horns

Bavarian State Orchestra

Kent Nagano

Robert Schumann
Concert piece for 4 valve horns and orchestra F major, op. 86

Richard Wagner

Richard Strauss
Metamorphoses for 23 solo strings
Recorded at
Farao Studios, Munich
November 2008

(German, English)
· texts
· biographies
A new dawn and history

When conducting the Bavarian State Orchestra, a matter which is of key importance to Kent Nagano is the orchestra’s special character, which has evolved from out of its almost 500 years of tradition, it being one of the oldest orchestras world wide. For Nagano, herein lies the analogy which is necessary for his commitment for all that is new in music.

The distinguishing feature of this orchestra is its unmistakable warm and dark string sound, having been fostered by the great operas of Mozart and Wagner, and enriched not only through the works of Richard Strauss but actually working with the composer himself. What culminates from out of this, through the tonal contributions of the horns and brass, is a basic tone quality which is wonderfully rounded, never stressing brilliance merely for the sake of brilliance. As an opera orchestra the Bavarian State Orchestra is immensely flexible and sensitive to the nuances and emotions of a score, a trait which in the 200 years of their activities as a concert orchestra, has formed them into such an exceptional ensemble.

Furthermore it is the versatile and pioneering horn group which forms the backbone and power house of the orchestra, and not only in the music of Wagner. Richard Strauss’ father, who in his day was principal hornist in Munich is for the musicians a much revered historical symbol. The task of performing Schumann’s "Konzertstück" is one to which the horn group rises with more than bravura.

Richard Wagner’s "Siegfried Idyll" represents an important element in the orchestra’s tradition. Performances of this work in which it is taken back to its origins to such an extent, are rarely heard, and its deep inner calm is rarely felt as much as in the new recording with Kent Nagano and the Bavarian State Orchestra.

Strauss’ late work "Metamorphosen" for 23 solo strings betokens the end of a musical era.  This is a piece which symbolizes contemplation of the past and closure, and at the same time the beginning of a new age.

Thus the program on this SACD sketches, in its own quiet way, a portrait of the Bavarian State Orchestra and its general music director.
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"MULTICHANNEL DISC OF THE MONTH *** A unique assembly of three works in fine performances and surround sonics. … This is a well-chosen and well-recorded program of works which have an interesting tie-in to this orchestra whose history goes back almost 500 years. This is the one and only SACD available of the unusual Konzertstück for Four Horns and Orchestra. … Nagano gives the work (Metamorphosen) a very deliberate and accurate interpretation, with attention to the subtle lines of each of the 23 solo strings. … Some of the greatest conductors of the past have been music directors of the Bavarian State Orchestra, and though it is well represented in opera recordings, it should have more attention in the orchestral area as well."
Audiophile Audition, John Sunier, October 22, 2012

"… In the contrapuntal finale, especially, there are moments of pure magic and burnished, golden tone that one only hears from the best German horn players and orchestras. … The opening movement crackles, and Mr. Nagano’s tempos keep the music moving at a brisk clip, especially in the outer movements. The central Romanze forms a nice contrast, sensuous and poetically charged. Throughout, the four soloists are nearly impeccable in their ferociously demanding parts, and the BSO plays this music as though they own it. … In this recording (Siegried-Idyll), Mr. Nagano and the BSO give a rapturous, impassioned performance that emphasizes the score’s lyrical qualities. The wind playing is particularly noteworthy: sweet, clear, and warm—precisely as it should be. … The sound quality of the SACD recording is second-to-none: immediate, full, and wholly present, in the quietest and busiest passages alike. There are plenty of classic recordings of the Siegfried-Idyll and Metamorphosen already, but here’s one more—and it also includes a rollicking Schumann with which you can’t go wrong. Very highly recommend."
The Arts Fuse, Jonathan Blumhofer, Sep 20, 2012

"… Johannes Dengler, Franz Draxinger, Rainer Schmitz and Maximilian Hochwimmer – all members of the BSO's horn section - play the hair-raising horn parts (Schumann Konzertstück) with supreme confidence and unfailing beauty of tone, while Kent Nagano's accompaniment is both sensitive and spirited. The recording, made in the Farao Studios in Munich, is full and spacious with both the brazen rasp of the horns and their resplendently burnished tones realistically reproduced. … Nagano's performance (Siegfried-Idyll) allows for not only appreciation of the refinement of the orchestra's string playing but also that of the characterful wind soloists. However, notwithstanding the beauty of the playing, I would have welcomed a little more forward movement from Nagano as the performance does incline at times towards stasis. … Nagano's individual account of 'Metamorphosen' is also very broad (27'59”), but such is the intensity of the playing that one is gripped by the performance from start to finish. … With warm well-focused sound and playing that easily matches that of the most high profile German orchestras this SACD can be confidently recommended."
SA-CD.net, Castor, Sep 23, 2012