2018 was branded as “Gewandhausjahr”: Gewandhausorchester celebrates its 275th birthday and the inauguration of Andris Nelsons as new Gewandhauskapellmeister.
Multiple Grammy Winner Andris Nelsons and his “superb” (The Guardian) Leipzig orchestra continue their acclaimed couplings of Bruckner and Wagner with Symphony No. 6, which Bruckner himself described as his “boldest” and “most brazen”, and Symphony No. 9, which Bruckner struggled with for a total of nine years until his death. The Symphonies are accompanied by the Wagner’s Prelude to his last complete opera, Parsifal, and the lovely Siegfried Idyll.
These performances are not, to be sure, historically informed, nor are they fashionably chamber-like. The Thomanerchor is traditionally large (and all male), and it is accompanied in four of the 11 discs by the Gewandhaus Orchestra and in the remaining seven by the Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum. The roster of the latter is not listed, but, like the Gewandhaus Orchestra, its players use modern instruments and are not adverse to vibrato. On the other hand, Rotzsch does avoid, for the most part, languid tempos and extravagant gestures. The young men of the Thomanerchor are well trained and attentive and make, collectively, a joyfully controlled noise. The orchestral players and instrumental soloists, too, are beyond reproach. Similarly, Rotzsch’s soloists are top-drawer. Among the latter, Arleen Augér, Otrun Wenkel, Peter Schreier, and Hermann Christian Polster make the most frequent appearances, but the others, including the likes of Regina Werner, Doris Soffel, Theo Adam, and Siegfried Lorenz, are splendid as well. Rotzsch, himself, sings on two of the discs (he is a tenor).–George Chien