The first electrical recording of Bruckner's 7th Symphony
"One of the finest-sounding recordings of its era" - Mark Obert-Thorn
"Grammophon have some interesting records not duplicated in the Decca catalogue. There is Bruckner's Seventh Symphony for those who like the rather diffuse eloquence of this composer. English conductors and orchestras treat us badly over Bruckner: they are too gentle with him. Few could resist him as he is played in Germany, where his love of noise and his sentimentality are given full play. Surprisingly enough, however, Bruckner gets away with it, as owners of these records (Grammophon 66802LM-66808LM) will see. The symphony is played by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jascha Horenstein."
from "Some Interesting German Records", The Gramophone, December 1935
Review of this release: American Record Guide, July/August 2010
Review of this release: Audiophile Audition
Notes on the recording:
There are two particularly remarkable things about this Bruckner Seventh. The first is that Grammophon/Polydor entrusted this première electrical recording of a complete Bruckner symphony to the 30-year-old Jascha Horenstein. At a time when that label was also making records with Furtwängler, Fried (who had made the first, acoustic, recording of the work several years earlier), Klemperer (who had previously recorded the Adagio of the Eighth acoustically), Pfitzner, Kleiber, and Richard Strauss, this was high praise, indeed, and a vote of confidence in the young maestro’s future career.
The second remarkable feature is the recorded sound that the original engineers were able to capture. Having transferred many orchestral discs from the late 1920s, I found it to be one of the finest-sounding recordings of its era. This is greatly aided by the quiet surfaces of the German Polydor pressings used for this transfer.
As the matrix numbers indicate, this was recorded over three separate sessions: the first movement in one session, the second movement and the first part of the Scherzo in the second, and the Scherzo’s Trio and the Finale in the third. Each session was recorded at a different speed, with the first two being well above the “standard” 78.26 rpm and the last being below it. The pitches have all been corrected here.
Like some other recordings of the 78 rpm period which featured A – B – A movements spread over three sides (the Scherzo in Mengelberg’s recording of the Schubert Ninth comes to mind), it was assumed that the listener would replay the first side of the Scherzo after the Trio side ended, since that side was not included twice in the set.
notes from Wikipedia
Jascha Horenstein (Hebrew: יאשה הורנשטיין; Russian: Яша Горенштейн; Ukrainian: Яша Горенштейн; 6 May [O.S. 24 April] 1898 - April 2, 1973, in London) was a Ukrainian-born American conductor.
Horenstein was born in Kiev, Ukraine (then part of the Russian Empire); his mother was Austrian.
His family moved to Vienna in 1911 and he studied at the Vienna Academy of Music starting in 1916, with Joseph Marx (music theory) and Franz Schreker (composition).
In 1920, he moved to Berlin and worked as an assistant to Wilhelm Furtwängler. During the 1920s he conducted the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He became principal conductor of the Düsseldorf Opera in 1928, and then the company's Generalmusikdirektor in 1929. He had to resign his post in March 1933 after the rise of the Nazi Party. His Düsseldorf tenure was the only permanent musical directorship in his career. Forced as a Jew to flee the Nazis, he moved to the United States of America in 1940, and eventually became an American citizen. He taught at the New School for Social Research while in New York City.
Horenstein is particularly remembered as a champion of modern music and as a Mahler conductor, although his repertory as shown by discographies was quite wide. In 1929 he conducted the premiere of three movements of Alban Berg's Lyric Suite in an arrangement for string orchestra. In 1950, he conducted the first Paris performance of Berg's Wozzeck.
Horenstein conducted the works of Anton Bruckner and Gustav Mahler throughout his career, and he also displayed ongoing interest in Carl Nielsen, whom he knew personally, at a time when these composers were unfashionable. For example, his 1952 Vox recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 9 was the first studio recording, and the second commercial record, of that work. Several years later, he recorded the original version of Bruckner's Symphony No. 9. He made studio recordings of several of Mahler's symphonies at various points in his career, including Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3 with the London Symphony Orchestra. A number of radio archives hold broadcast airchecks of many of the other Mahler symphonies, as well as Das Lied von der Erde. In recent years, several of Horenstein's concert performances have been reissued on the BBC Legends label, including his celebrated 1959 Royal Albert Hall performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 and his 1972 Manchester performance of Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.
Horenstein also recorded Robert Simpson's Third Symphony and music by Paul Hindemith and Richard Strauss during the last few years of his life. His opera recordings included Carl Nielsen's Saul og David. His final operatic, and British, engagement was his March 1973 performances at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden of Richard Wagner's Parsifal.
Notes from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jascha_Horenstein
Bruckner: Symphony No. 7
notes from Wikipedia
Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E major (WAB 107) is one of his best-known symphonies. It was written between 1881 and 1883 and was revised in 1885. It is dedicated to Ludwig II of Bavaria. The premiere, given under Arthur Nikisch in the opera house at Leipzig in 1884, brought Bruckner the greatest success he had known in his life. The symphony is sometimes referred to as the "Lyric", though the appellation is not the composer's own, and is seldom used.
The symphony has four movements:
Allegro moderato E major. Starts with tremolo strings and the cellos presenting "a complete, divinely given melodic whole."
Adagio. Sehr feierlich und sehr langsam C-sharp minor. Legend has it that Bruckner wrote the cymbal clash at the climax of this movement upon hearing the news that Wagner had died.
Scherzo. Sehr schnell A minor with Trio in F major
This was the version performed at the work's premiere. Unfortunately it survives only in one autograph copy which includes later changes by Bruckner and others, so the exact contents of this version are lost unless new manuscripts are found. This version is unpublished.
Gutmann edition (published 1885)
Some changes were made after the 1884 premiere but before the first publication by Gutmann in 1885. It is widely accepted that Nikisch, Franz Schalk and Ferdinand Löwe had significant influence over this edition, but there is some debate over the extent to which these changes were authorized by Bruckner. These changes mostly affect tempo and orchestration.
Haas edition (published 1944)
Robert Haas attempted to remove the influence of Nikisch, Schalk and Löwe in order to retrieve Bruckner's original conception of the symphony. Haas used some material from the 1883 autograph but because this autograph also includes later changes much of his work was the product of conjecture. The most prominent feature of Haas's edition is the absence of cymbals, triangle and timpani in the slow movement: Haas asserted that Bruckner decided to omit the percussion, a claim scholar Benjamin Korstvedt deems "implausible".
Nowak edition (published 1954)
Leopold Nowak kept most of the changes in the 1885 Gutmann edition, including the percussion. He reprinted the tempo modifications from Gutmann but placed them in brackets. Some performances of this edition omit the cymbal clash at the climax of the slow movement, although it is included in the printed score.
An arrangement of this symphony for chamber ensemble (consisting of 2 violins, viola, cello, bass, clarinet, horn, piano 4-hands, and harmonium) was prepared in 1921 by students and associates of Arnold Schoenberg, for the Viennese "Society for Private Musical Performances": Hanns Eisler (1st and 3rd movements), Erwin Stein (2nd mvt.), and Karl Rankl (3rd mvt).[clarification needed] The Society folded before the arrangement could be performed, and it was not premiered until more than 60 years later.
The symphony requires the following orchestra:
woodwinds: 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in A, 2 bassoons
brass: 4 horns in F, 3 trumpets in F, 3 trombones, 4 Wagner tubas (2 tenors in B-flat, 2 basses in F), tuba
percussion: timpani, cymbals, triangle
strings: violins 1, 2, violas, violoncellos, double basses
 Used in the 2nd and 4th movements only. If Wagner Tubas are not available, they are sometimes substituted with Euphoniums.
 Except the third movement where the use of timpani figures prominently, usage of percussion in the symphony is extremely limited. A timpani roll enters at the coda of the first movement. In some performance editions, the timpani reenters along with cymbals and triangle together in the climax of the second movement (the only movement employing cymbals and triangle). (Many conductors have taken to performing the second movement without percussion, however, and the decision is generally settled by the performers' preferences.) In the last movement, the timpani rolls in brief climaxes before crescendoing with orchestral tutti in the final bars.
Use by Hitler
According to Frederic Spotts's Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics, Adolf Hitler compared this symphony favorably with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. When he consecrated a bust of Bruckner at Regensburg's Walhalla temple in 1937, the Adagio from the Seventh was played as Hitler stood in quiet admiration, a widely photographed propaganda stunt. A recording of the Adagio was played before the official radio announcement of the German defeat at Stalingrad in January 1943 and before Admiral Karl Dönitz announced Hitler's death on Radio Berlin on May 1, 1945.
The first commercial recording was made by Oskar Fried with the Berlin State Opera Orchestra in 1924 for Polydor. Along with the Fourth, the Seventh is the most popular Bruckner symphony both in the concert hall and on record.
Herbert von Karajan's last recording with the Vienna Philharmonic, 23 April 1989, three months before his death, on the Deutsche Grammophon label, of the Haas edition of the 1885 score, has been singled out by Norman Lebrecht as #80 in his list of the 100 best recordings, and described as "more human and vulnerable" than his earlier Berlin recording. In reviewing the 1999 recording by Kurt Sanderling, the critic David Hurwitz listed as reference (benchmark) recordings of Bruckner's Seventh those by Eugen Jochum in 1952, Bernard Haitink in 1978, Karajan in 1989, and Günter Wand in 1999. Stephen Johnson prefers Karl Böhm's recording with the Vienna Philharmonic, saying that Bohm balances "clear-sighted formal understanding with a more fluid, supple approach to phrasing."
The chamber arrangement has been recorded.
Notes from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_No._7_(Bruckner)