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''Stanislaw Skrowaczewski is an under-recorded Polish conductor who spent much of his early career in the USA before moving back to Europe. I am not sure how much Bruckner he programmed in Minnesota but I can recall hearing him with the Hallé in the Third Symphony when he was principal conductor of that orchestra during the 1980s. These readings certainly seem to be the product of much experience and thought.
Skrowaczewski has a consistent approach to Bruckner which is forthright but unforced and sounds natural. Tempi are almost invariably well-judged and kept constant unless Bruckner explicitly marks a change. Relative to others, fast movements tend to be slightly quicker (e.g. the first movement of the Ninth) and slow movements slightly slower (e.g. the great adagios of the last three symphonies). Skrowaczewski perhaps underplays elements of mystery and religious fervour but the architectural strength of the readings is compelling.
Following Terry Barfoot?s detailed review, there seems to be no need to go through the symphonies individually. The hallmark of this cycle is consistency and there is a not single work that I found disappointing. Equally well, none would probably be a top choice but there is a lot of competition in these works. I listened to the symphonies in numerical order and had a clear sense of progression - Skrowaczewski convincingly presents the composer's development and leaves no doubt about the greatness of the later works.
The playing of the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra is very fine throughout. They are accorded decent, presumably studio, sound except in the Seventh which was the first to be recorded and for which an audience is occasionally audible, although not seriously obtrusive and no applause remains.
In terms of editions, Skrowaczewski generally opts for Bruckner's last thoughts, except in the First Symphony, for which he chooses the first (Linz) version. Detailed information relating to the precise editions used is lacking but will probably only matter to seasoned Brucknerians. Overall, the textual choices are reasonable and coherent in terms of the whole cycle.
In addition to the symphonies numbered 1-9 there are four extra works to be mentioned, making this the most complete Bruckner box available. The early symphonies, now usually known as 00 and 0, have been recorded a few times and the latter is part of some complete cycles (e.g. Haitink's). Their inclusion here is useful and Skrowaczewski almost convinces one that the earlier work, in F minor, is more than a mere student exercise ... which is what Bruckner considered it to be - he was 39 when he wrote it! Slightly later but in similar vein came the G minor overture. No 0 is certainly a fine work, parts of which date from after the First Symphony. Finally there is an arrangement for string orchestra of the great adagio from the String Quintet, Bruckner's only mature chamber composition. Much as I love this movement and, despite its almost symphonic vision, I am a bit dubious about it in this form because of a loss in intimacy and the lack of context provided by the other movements. Undoubtedly though, given its rarity on record, this is of interest.
To sum up the artistic considerations - this is a thoroughly recommendable cycle, well played and in decent sound. Its particular strength lies in Skrowaczewski's consistent and unmannered approach.'' MusicWeb International