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Paul Pelkonen
Superconductor, May 2010

Although he was battling cancer at the time, the late George Tintner made a landmark cycle of Bruckner symphonies. He coaxed great performances from a series of obscure orchestras. This super-budget set includes the, proving that you didn’t have to have a big name to play great Bruckner…

Penguin Guide, January 2009

There are a few more persuasive Bruckner conductors than Georg Tintner, and his symphonic cycle on Naxos is uniquely complete in including not only Die Nullte and the ‘Study Symphony’, but also the ‘Volksfest’ Finale of No. 4. The performances are very well played by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the readings dedicated and intense, often inspired, and the recordings are full, atmospheric and clear. The Naxos White Box includes admirably extensive documentation, and this set must receive the strongest recommendation, quite irrespective of its modest cost.

Rick Phillips
CBC, January 2009

The Naxos label has recently started a new series of releases called THE WHITE BOX. This will be a continuing series that explores complete areas of a composer’s work—like Symphonies, for example. The initial releases of THE WHITE BOX sets from Naxos feature the complete symphonies by eight different composers—MALCOLM ARNOLD, BRUCKNER, DVORAK, MENDELSSOHN, RACH., SHOSTAKOVICH, SIBELIUS and TCH. In the case of the RACH. and TCH. sets, their complete Piano Concertos are also included with the Symphonies.

The title THE WHITE BOX comes from the distinctive packaging design—each set is a plain white box with a simple sketch of the composer. Also included with the CDs are full notes, as well as biographies of the composers and the artists. Each individual CD in the sets comes in its own individual sleeve. And like all Naxos products, the boxes are budget-priced.

In my mind, the best set of the complete symphonies by any composer is the one you personally compile yourself. But that takes time and a lot more money usually—things many people are short of these days. So these complete sets will be attractive to many. And from this initial release, the one that jumps out at me is the complete set of the Symphonies by ANTON BRUCKNER conducted by the late GEORG TINTNER. These were recorded during the late 1990s, mostly with the ROYAL SCOTTISH NAT. ORCH.

GEORG TINTNER was a well-known musical figure in this country. For years, he was involved with the NATIONAL YOUTH ORCH. of CANADA. And from 1987, he was the Music Director of SYMPHONY NOVA SCOTIA. He died in 1999. TINTNER was a highly regarded BRUCKNER exponent, and his complete Naxos set of the BRUCKNER Symphonies from the 1990s is still raved about.

But as a true lover of BRUCKNER, TINTNER recorded all of the numbered Symphonies—the Nos. 1 through 9, as well as THE SYMPHONY No. 0—Die Nullte—an early withdrawn Symphony. Also included are some alternate versions of some of the mvmts. And he also included the BRUCKNER Symphony No. 00—the so-called Study Symphony. This work was composed while BRUCKNER was still a music student. His teacher’s reaction to it was, “not particularly inspired.” And BRUCKNER—terribly insecure—disowned it as a result. But he never destroyed the score, as he did with other works that he rejected, totally.

The best set of the complete symphonies by any composer is the one that you compile yourself from favourite, individual recordings. It’s difficult for one conductor and orch. to satisfy anyone, completely. But since that requires quite a bit of time and money, these Naxos WHITE Boxes are a good substitute in our hectic, fast-paced lives. And this complete BRUCKNER Symphony set with conductor GEORG TINTNER from Naxos fits the bill.

TINTNER had a direct, no-nonsense approach to the BRUCKNER Symphonies. He took BRUCKNER at his word, and followed the composer’s instructions almost to the letter. They’re beautifully paced and phrased. The ROYAL SCOTTISH NAT. ORCH. sat up in their chairs for TINTNER, and the love and enjoyment of the orch., the conductor and the recording team come across in spades. It’s a great way to acquire the complete BRUCKNER Symphonies in strong performances at budget-price. I’ll give it the full five stars.

That’s THE WHITE BOX—a continuing series from Naxos of complete Symphony sets—and other orchestral works—by a variety of composers. The initial release of the WHITE Boxes includes the complete Symphonies by MALCOLM ARNOLD, DVORAK, MENDELSSOHN, RACH., SHOSTAKOVICH, SIBELIUS, TCH. and BRUCKNER. The BRUCKNER set, from which we’ve just heard, features the ROYAL SCOTTISH NAT. ORCH. conducted by the late GEORG TINTNER. Those are all available from Naxos, selling at budget-price.

Classical Notes, October 2007

The playing is remarkably solid, yet replaces the ultimate polish of the finest orchestras with a compelling sense of struggle and subtly shifting tension that effectively draws us into the composer’s hidden world. © 2007 Classical Notes Read complete review

Raymond Tuttle
Classical Net, July 2002

As you voyage through Bruckner’s symphonies, you could hardly ask for a more patent, knowledgeable, and understanding guide than Tintner…Tintner achieves a rare synergy: he knows how to get the best out of an orchestra, and he knows how to shape Bruckner’s phrases, build his movements, and construct his symphonies.

David Hurwitz, March 2002

There’s no question that the late Georg Tintner was a great Brucknerian, even if some of his textual decisions (such as his preference for the patently inferior first version of the Eighth Symphony) necessarily make this set one to own alongside other, more traditional approaches. On the other hand, put this together with Skowaczewski’s Arte Nova set, also at budget price, and you can have two superb, hugely different Bruckner cycles for a very reasonable price. And whether or not you agree with all of Tintner’s decisions with respect to editions, there’s no question that he justifies his choices by delivering the best performance available of the alternative in question. This is true of the Eighth, and even more so of his astonishing Third, one of the very greatest Bruckner performances ever committed to disc. Also noteworthy: superb versions of the Seventh, Fourth, First, and the two early works: “0” and “00”. The orchestras involved aren’t traditional “Bruckner orchestras” either, and so lack that characteristic rich string sound and dark-toned brass, but even this contributes rather than detracts from Tintner’s distinctive vision, and the playing is never less than up to Bruckner’s demands. Sonically, these are also some of Naxos’ finest efforts, making this box an essential purchase for anyone who loves Bruckner and who missed these performances the first time around.

Robert Cummings
Classical Net, January 2002

Georg Tintner…has rightly been recognized as one of the finest Bruckner interpreters of any generation. From my perspective, his set has been the most enlightening, interpretively and textually. True, he has come under criticism for his selection of the first version of the Eighth Symphony, generally considered an inferior one by musicologists. But I’m not so sure about that judgment-Tintner makes an excellent case for his choice, one that convinces you that you could live only with this version quite satisfied. His second movement is the best I’ve ever heard, and in the third he captures the depth and beauty about as well as anyone else…In the end, considering performance and price, this set is a genuine bargain, and a must for Brucknerians.

John Leeman
MusicWeb International, December 2001

At last Georg Tintners much discussed Bruckner Symphony cycle has arrived complete, nicely packaged in one of Naxos’s white Boxes. The other seven White Boxes, recently launched, are also complete symphonic cycles. Five of those employ a single orchestra. Tintner has three at his disposal.

All the Bruckner symphonies in the pack have been released separately over the last four years and reviews have already appeared on this web site. Terry Barfoot has taken an overview in addition to some separate reviews by others. I will thus discuss the merits or otherwise of purchasing the complete box.

What we have here is one mans view of a major body of symphonic work so the enterprise hinges on Georg Tintner. Not all conductors would be up to the job, to put it mildly. A true Brucknerian is one who, among other things, can handle the brass blaze-ups, spiritually plumbing adagios, rampant scherzi and so on yet keeps an absolute grip on the overall architecture. Getting the most out of those passing moments within a symphony yet leaving the listener with an impression (to use an architectural metaphor) of a solid, well-buttressed cathedral is no easy matter.

There is no question that Tintner is up to the job. Some of the things he does may not be to everyone’s taste but he knows exactly what he wants and how to get it. He certainly passes the test mentioned above. So we come to the next factor in the success of this venture, the orchestras—the players who have the responsibility to realise Tintners vision. Potentially there could be a problem here. If Bruckner fans were to pick their favourite symphony recordings they are likely to come up with combinations of great Brucknerian conductors with the great orchestras whose histories are partly bound up with the music the likes of The Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics. One of the more recently recorded potent combinations has been Gunter Wand with the Berlin Philharmonic. Many people found his Seventh Symphony breathtaking. Comparisons may be odious but people are going to make them. Tintner’s three orchestras do a superb…Tintner’s recording of the Seventh is, in my opinion, the finest in the box…There seems to have been some conferring among engineers across the three recording venues for there is an admirable consistency of sound. There is splendid sonority and many people will like it very much.

Another factor to take into account is the inclusion of curiosities of particular interest to scholars. The complete (and disowned!) ‘Study Symphony’ and alternative versions of two movements, the Third Adagio and Fourths Finale, are included. Which brings me to the thorny Bruckner ‘versions’ issue. Those interested in the composer could, on this subject, be categorised into three: those who don’t know too much and don’t care, those who think it a necessary chore and know a little, and those to whom it is an all consuming interest (and are at risk of becoming Bruckner bores). Of course it is an important issue and decisions have to be made. In this case Tintner has made all the decisions based on a thorough knowledge, as can be gathered from his booklet notes. Those who fall into the first two categories can safely put themselves into Tintners hands. The experts will see from the list which are the versions and will have their own views. As a general principle Tintner tends towards Bruckner’s earlier thoughts where he feels it appropriate. In some cases this has led to versions being included which are rarely heard. This applies particularly to the First and Second symphonies and many people will want to own these.

There is no question that this set is a major recording achievement. For those who are fairly new to Bruckner and need a beginners starter pack then this has to be it. Others who have incomplete collections of the symphonies, then this is a marvellous way to fill the gaps. Lastly, the seasoned fans will find here things of scholarly interest but in purchasing the box will own performances that will provide competitive alternatives to their old favourites. There is something for everyone a real quality bargain.

Georg Tintner spent much of his career in Australasia and Canada so as a conductor he rarely got near mainstream centre stage. The Bruckner set is bound to have a major impact on his reputation, sadly a posthumous one for he died in 1999. This white box is a wonderful epitaph.

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