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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
"Towering Cathedrals of Sound"Jan. 28 2010
Mr John Haueisen
- Published on Amazon.com
"Towering Cathedrals of Sound" is how I've always described Bruckner's symphonies, especially the Eighth. Although some today think of Bruckner's works as old, in his time he was viewed as "modern," in the sense that he was moving beyond the rigid compositional "rules" of the past. Even Richard Wagner said that of all the composers of his time, Bruckner was the most like Beethoven who, among other things, had broken from the past by including a choral section in his final symphony.
In the documentary section of this DVD, there are interviews with several members of the German Symphony Orchestra of Berlin. The interviews shed light on the performance, but I wish Nagano had included even more of his own analysis--that's the only shortcoming I would mention for this program. Among the interviews, a horn player speaks of how Bruckner must not have played the horn, for his horn parts leave few opportunities for a breath. The horn player also comments on Bruckner's choice of Wagner tubas for use in the Eighth. They also remark on harps--that Bruckner suggested that as many as possible harps be used. This performance uses three, and Nagano urges them to play as loudly as possible.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention that, despite an occasional desultory effect of the camera's moving from one musician to another, with perhaps too much hesitation watching the violin bows, the German Symphony Orchestra (DSO) does turn in an inspiring performance of a symphony that carries many of us up into the heavens.
Many people believe that Bruckner's symphonies are too slow. But as Kent Nagano remarks, they may APPEAR slow, but there is often a rapid undercurrent--more there than one immediately recognizes. I think Bruckner may have explained it best when he said: "he who would build a high tower must spend a long time on the foundations."
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Bruckner deserves better!April 19 2008
Robert M. Haas
- Published on Amazon.com
This edition of Classical Masterpieces with Kent Nagano does not live up to its potential. Anton Bruckner's symphonic masterpieces are complex and still frequently misunderstood. A series like this could go a long way in bringing stirring performances with insightful, understandable yet thorough analysis. Both elements fall short. While there are some interesting points made via interviews with the musicians, and Maestro Nagano gives some insight into Bruckner's massive conception, too much is overlooked. The serious music lover will particularly feel short-changed in that the analysis is superficial and overly sentimental. There's precious little about the architecture and structure, use of keys, rhythm, theme development, and musical philosophy. Even the Finale's brilliant combination of all the previous movements' themes is not even mentioned, let alone analyzed. Performance is good but not stirring, and the sound quality is disappointing for the medium. Too bad: here was a chance to do something extraordinary with a true masterpiece.