This album deserves a place on any website devoted to anything resembling good, wholesome, old music. I don’t know where I found it, I didn’t know I had it, and upon listening to I was reminded of sitting on the couch as a 6 or 7 year old and humming a tune which I startlingly found to be the “Jagerchor” from Carl Weber’s seminal opera Die Freischutz, included on the disc.
The album begins with the entirety of Bruckner’s 7th symphony, in a rendition that can only be described as mono-instrumental. That’s right, the work sounds as though it was played on a single massive instrument, albeit with different timbres and dynamic settings. The overall orchestral melding is quite sublime, and the violins can’t seem to stay in tune, which adds to the somber but buoyant feeling of the piece.
Note- as of this writing I’ve only made it through the whole symphony once. The first movement is 17 minutes long and contains a lot of repetition, and that’s good enough for me. The second is 19 minutes, so I usually give it until about the 8 minute mark and then listen to some Brandenburg concertos. Brandenburg concertos rock.
Anyway, the rest of the album is quite good, including some screamy Wagner excerpts and the aforementioned Jagerchor. The last piece on the album, an excerpt from Mascagni’s 1890 magnum opus Cavalleria Rusticana, stands out for its inclusion of a potent, warbly organ with a fundamentally shrill sonority.
Having been initially released in 1924 on 78rpm records, the sound quality alone ensures that this album is an acquired taste, perhaps deserving of the label “scratchcore,” and will never make it to the top 40 hits. What a pity.
As a side note, most of the photos of the conductor of this album, Oskar Fried (misspelled as “Oscar” on the album itself) show him smoking a cigarette. That is, the man had countless portraits of himself taken while puffing away on a deathstick. What a punk!