BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7, BERLIOZ: Overtures Le Corsaire, Le Carnaval Romain – Moores School Symphony Orchestra/Franz Anton Krager

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7, BERLIOZ: Overtures Le corsaire and Le carnaval romain – Moores School Symphony Orchestra – Franz Anton Krager, conductor High Definition Tape Transfers Blu-ray audio disc with 5.0 and 2.0 audio. Available through hifdeftapetrsanfers.com

An able student performance very well recorded

This is a bit of a difficult review to write. We have a good recording, but in a rather lifeless hall and a student orchestra playing. And the HDTT label has two other Bruckner Symphony no. 7 recordings, both by top notch orchestras but not as well presented due to their age.

On to this disc. It’s a Blu-ray audio 5.0 channel 24/192 recording. It also offers a 2.0 mix. It’s quite transparent sounding, but the rub is that it easily betrays extraneous noise from the musicians, and since this was a live performance, we also hear a bit of noise from the audience. It’s nothing awful, but I think many listeners will be distracted.

The musicians of the University of Houston Moores School Symphony Orchestra are quite good really, but the Bruckner Symphony no. 7 is difficult to perform, and these young players just aren’t the caliber of the major symphony orchestras. They do quite well actually – remarkably well, but it is still a student orchestra and frequently sounds like one. The string playing is quite good however, but some entrances have the players seeming a bit uncertain. On the whole, it’s a good, but not great or defining performance, and I would not expect that of these young, energetic players.

I touched on small noises in the recording, which can be heard in many live performances. I do believe the sound of the orchestra has been accurately captured. It was not recorded in the finest venue, and I find the recording a bit dry, which reflects the hall and not the quality of the engineering. It sounds like the microphones are placed well back from the orchestra, rather than planted in the middle, which seems like the right choice for realism

The surrounds are used for ambiance, but this hall doesn’t produce a very active sound signature, so the surrounds are subdued.

The disc ends with two works by Berlioz, the Overture Le corsairs, and the Overture Le Carnival romain. Both works are played quite energetically, and with fine precision. I thought the Roman Carnival Overture in particular is very well and maturely played.

There is a wealth of Bruckner Symphony no. 7 recordings on Blu-ray, both in audio only form and video concert form. This recording under review can’t be said to be the best of the lot, but it’s a worthwhile listen and a very fine recording.

—Mel Martin

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