- Quintet for strings in F major, WAB 112
- Siegfried Idyll, for small orchestra in E major, WWV 103
On its face, this program of Richard Wagner's "Siegfried Idyll" and Anton Bruckner's "String Quintet in F major," as arranged for string orchestra, appears to be balanced and stylistically well-matched, for both works have similar modes of expression and even a few superficial thematic resemblances. Yet as natural and warmly expressive as "Siegfried Idyll" comes across in this cheerful performance by Ruben Gazarian and the Württemberg Chamber Orchestra Heilbronn, the "String Quintet" suffers from Hans Stadlmair's super-lush arrangement, and the greater part of this CD is heavy going. Even though the "String Quintet" is a charming piece of chamber music, it acquires a kind of stodginess and portentousness when played by a string orchestra, and resembles nothing so much as a partially orchestrated version of one of the symphonies. The piece was written on a challenge from violinist Josef Hellmesberger, who wanted it for his own string quartet, and Bruckner accepted the request as a respite from symphonic writing. He never intended the "String Quintet" to be a small-scale symphony, and even though Stadlmair's expanded treatment gives it the feeling of great richness and depth, it loses the intimacy and elegance of Bruckner's original. In the end, Gazarian's interpretation of "Siegfried Idyll" is worth hearing, but the "String Quintet" really needs to be heard in its unadulterated chamber version.