I was very hesitant about submitting this text, because there are already two superb reviews of this DVD on file (Mike Birman and Scott Morrison), and they reflect my own views in almost every respect. As they point out, Abbado has taken an approach that strips the superficial layers of vulgarity and bombast from this work to reveal the current of profound spirituality that lies underneath the sound and fury by which it is all too often concealed. He achieves his desired effects with a minimum of physical effort (a wise strategy given his obvious frailty). The Lucerne Festival Orchestra responds to his wishes as if by telepathy. The loudest crescendo is reduced to a whisper with a look as much as a gesture; volume and pace are switched up and down with the flick of a wrist or the flap of a palm. In the large-scale ensemble passages, the musicians have the cohesion of a single instrument. The score offers numerous solo opportunities for woodwind and occasionally brass; such gifts are seized with relish by these accomplished musicians and are the occasion for some of the most ravishing, delicate and haunting melodies in the entire symphonic repertoire. Perhaps it is this feature that persuaded one of the reviewers that he was actually listening to a chamber orchestra, but no such orchestra could have produced the cataclysm of sound with which Abbado brought the symphony to its close --- the brilliance of the brass contained and buffered by the luscious velvet of the strings, with each section giving its all. Many such climactic moments abound elsewhere in the score, but they are always handled with discretion and taste, and never permitted to drown out the true soul of this spiritual music. As with all these EuroArts products, the sound quality is exceptional and one has a choice of formats for viewing, but I found the picture quality less sharp than, for example, the Mahler recordings in this same hall, or the Beethoven Symphony cycle in Santa Cecilia and the Philharmonie. This is most apparent in the long shots framing the entire orchestra from the back of the hall; the blurring may be due to the enormous size of the orchestra that fills the large stage so completely that there isn't even room for a cat. The close-ups, by contrast, are very satisfactory although they tend to repeat the same favoured subjects and their instruments. I have a large collection of Bruckner on vinyl and CD, and have heard most of his symphonies more than once in the concert hall with some of the greatest orchestras and conductors on the planet. My difficulty up to now has been in deciding whether he was a fine third-rate or a mediocre second-class composer, but this performance persuades me that the proper task might be to figure out at what level he should be placed in the first rank. There are no arguments about Beethoven's place in the musical hierarchy, or of his 3rd piano concerto in the repertoire of that instrument. The issue here, and it is purely academic, is how this performance stack s up against its DVD competitors. There are two with which I am familiar: Ashkenazy with the LPO under Haitink, and Barenboim with the Berlin Staatskapelle Orchestra under Barenboim. The first is much older than the second, and the sound quality correlates inversely with the age. On the other hand, the venue for the second is a grim factory-like hall in Bochum (Ruhr) that does not compare with the elegance of the Royal Festival Hall (Ashkenazy) or the Lucerne Congress Centre, and while Barenboim turns in a wonderful keyboard performance (the best of the three in my opinion), I found his switching of roles rather disconcerting. Once more, Abbado does a fine job of conducting with minimal physical direction, and the orchestra responds admirably. As in the Bruckner, his volume amplitude is exceptionally wide: his fortes fulsome and his pianos hushed to the point where one sometimes has to strain to hear them. Brendel looks to be almost as frail as his colleague, but his playing shows no lack of vigour, and there is a mature appreciation of the score in his interpretation. Nevertheless I would pick Barenboim if I had to. I said that the choice was academic because the Bruckner is worth purchasing on its merits, and the concerto is in that context no more than a welcome bonus, whereas the Ashkenazy and Barenboim are included in 2-disc sets of the complete Beethoven piano concertos.