“BRUCKNER in Cathedral” – Ave Maria WAB.7; “Windhaager Mass” in C WAB.25; Motets (arr. by M. Bok); Adagio (2nd mov’t of Sym. No. 7, arr. by M. Bok) – Czech Horn Chorus/Radek Baborak, leader/Ales Barta, organ/Milos Bok, cond. – Cryston multichannel SACD OVCC-00068, 69:48 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:
This SACD from the Japanese Triton label has notes entirely in Japanese, but a four-page insert in English has been thoughtfully provided. It has details on each work, but nothing on the overall concept of the album. I gather from the photos in the Japanese booklet that there are a total of eight horn players involved, and some of them play the Wagner tubas rather than French horns. The location is evidently a cathedral in the Czech Republic. The idea was clearly to combine the rich sounds of the massed horns with the voluminous acoustics of the cathedral in hi-res surround.
The two earlier sets of works plus the short Ave Maria were mostly arranged from Bruckner vocal works he composed very early in his career. I didn’t find them especially compelling, though the massed horns in surround are a great experience. However, the 24-minute concluding work—the Adagio from his Seventh Symphony—is an amazing arrangement for only a single horn plus organ of this typical Bruckner slow movement, which was patterned on the third movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The superb soloist is of course the ensemble’s leader, Radek Baborak.
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