A CD containing Bruckner’s music for piano may come as something of a surprise, since you either need to know a lot about Bruckner, or conversely very little, to expect such a thing. Yet here it is, and very interesting it is too. Fumiko Shiraga plays very well, and her performances can be described as dedicated and thoroughly prepared. In addition the BIS recorded sound is as good as we have come to expect from this reliable company: full toned and atmospheric, with due attention to detail.
Even though the sound expanses traversed by ambient music often evoke feelings of horizontality, layered planeness and volatile textures tranquilly billowing out, it is also true that the greater representatives of the genre and its sub-branches – like mountaineers – mostly seek for sky-scraping verticality. Ranking high in the pantheon of atmosphere architects, Rafael Anton Irisarri certainly has nothing left to prove. Since his beginnings over ten years ago, his output has gained a density that very few can boast having reached, establishing a sound that has the power to haunt your nights and the crucial energy to bring your most buried existential dreams out of mothballs.
The early opera of Antonín Dvorák recorded here definitely falls into the historical oddity category. It's in German, not Czech, set to a libretto by a poet long dead by 1870, when the work was composed, and it is unknown why Dvorák would have undertaken such a sizable project. The subject is a British king, Alfred the Great, who also inspired the opera by Thomas Arne that contains Rule, Brittania, and even shows up in the Vikings television miniseries.