The Bamberger Symphoniker (Bamberg Symphony) is a German orchestra that was formed in 1946 after musicians who had previously been members of the German Philharmonic Orchestra of Prague returned home. In 1993 the additional name of Bayerische Staatsphilharmonie (Bavarian State Philharmonic) was adopted by this fine ensemble, which now makes its home in the City of Bamberg.
The young Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša leads it, imprinting into his music-making a decidedly robust and energetic sound that, paraphrasing the orchestra’s own marketing words, bears a Bohemian undercurrent that evidences strongly disciplined playing from the ensemble and a leadership both pliant and decisive from Maestro Hrůša.
Johannes Brahms’ Symphony no. 4 in E minor, opus 98 occupies one of the two compact disks that are part of the recent 2018 TUDOR recording co-produced with BR KLASSIK.
Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony no. 9, in E Minor, opus 95, “From the New World” takes up the entire second CD.
The recordings were produced by Pauline Heister and Wladek Glowacz, engineered by Sebastian Braun and Markus Spatz, mastered by Christoph Stickel, and elegantly packaged with excellent linear notes in German, French, and English, and an insightful interview with Jakub Hrůša.
Recorded in 2017 in the orchestra’s home, the Bamberg Concert Hall, the quality of the sound is crystal clear and limpid, giving equal value to the high frequencies of the upper strings and woodwinds in the Dvořák, and faithful attention to the brass and lower strings in the Brahms, and altogether beautifully balanced throughout.
Most important of all, the music making of this notable ensemble is of the highest order. Impassioned yet disciplined in the Dvořák, controlled and sober yet emotionally charged in the Brahms, the Bamberg musicians and their conductor travel comfortably from the quintessentially German Brahms Fourth to the pan-nationalistic Dvořák, with its folklore-inspired Americanisms of the “Goin’ Home” movement.
The pairing of the music of these two indispensable composers in one album is both felicitous and moving, for these two mutual admirers were also good friends.
This listener enthusiastically salutes the work of the Bamberger Symphoniker, recommends this double CD, and looks forward to future releases from TUDOR and BR Klassik.
Rafael de Acha