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Bruckner: Symphony No.7 (ORDER SACD ON 801857)


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1. Allegro Moderato
2. Adagio. Ser Feierlich Und Sehr Langsam
3. Scherzo. Sehr Schnell
4. Finale. Bewegt Doch Nicht Schnell

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Surprise, Surprise: A historically correct Winner! Nov. 21 2004
By J. F. Laurson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Oh Boy! "Historically Informed Bruckner" - just what we needed, right? Seriously: after Roger Norrington suggesting to play Mahler without vibrato (historically correct as that may be), this seemed to be just about the next-dumbest idea. But unlike the recent and highly unnecessary Bruckner recordings of Messrs. Eschenbach and Nagano, this is actually rather a delight. Smaller forces, original instruments (gut strings and all) make for a very clean, crisp sound. Clocking in at exactly an hour, this 7th - sans cymbal crash in the Adagio - has a sheen that puts it above many conventional rivals that pander too much to the clichés of Bruckner-performance. Among modern versions it stands up to Rattle and Harnoncourt - and while I reserve a special place in my heart for G. Wand's and E. Jochum's recordings, this live performance is good enough even to make a first choice.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Early Music Bruckner Aug. 23 2006
By V. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Herreweghe is well-known for his recordings of early music and his advocacy of historical instruments and performance practices. Here, he brings that approach to Bruckner with decidedly mixed results. Ultimately, though, I think the problems lie with Herreweghe himself and not his "reduced" orchestra.

After a short adjustment period, I really took to Herreweghe's idea of an orchestra with a reduced string section playing on gut strings. Without the overwhelming string textures of most modern orchestras one can really hear the wind instruments. Not only does this mean one can hear all their interesting contrapuntal lines, but one can also hear when Bruckner adds them to the string textures to change the color a little.

Herreweghe's use of historic instruments (and modern replicas) really pays benefits with the brass which are far more nimble than most modern orchestras. One loses some oomph, of course, but in Bruckner's many loud dotted passages for the brass one actually hears music as opposed to the galumphing that modern, overly resonant instruments produce.

The real problem with this recording is Herreweghe's inflexibility with tempo and complete unwillingness to indulge in even the slightest rubato.

The tempos are generally quicker than one usually hears in this music, but that isn't by itself a flaw. One of my favorite recordings of this piece is William Steinberg's old recording with the Pittsburgh Symphony that clocks in at nearly the same 60 minutes Herreweghe takes.

The difference is that Steinberg knows when to push ahead and when to relax and indulge a phrase. Herreweghe pretty much bulls ahead without any patience for what a little phrasing might do. This may be the style of modern early instrument performances, but Bruckner wrote romantic music no matter how austere his musical ethos was. Herreweghe's style might work better with Bruckner's 5th symphony, but the 7th calls for some appreciation of the beauty of the music.

Overall, I suspect Herreweghe's way with Bruckner might improve as he spends more time with the composer. As a result, I look forward to listening to other Bruckner from him. With this recording, though, proceed with caution.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Bruckner Lite April 7 2014
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I am an admirer of Herreweghe and often particularly like how he clarifies and even purifies musical lines and textures to bring out their individual voices. Clearly he knows exactly what he wants to do with Bruckner here and achieves it; whether you, especially if you are a conservative or traditionalist with firm views about how Bruckner should be interpreted, will like this approach is for you to decide. Certainly there are moments of limpid beauty in this recording but I'm not sure that is enough.

It is not just speed that is the issue; at around an hour Herreweghe's certainly one of the fastest performances on record, but in the good company of William Steinberg, Heinz Rögner and even Knappertsbusch. However, the latter had the advantage of directing the VPO, just as Rögner had the Berlin Radio Symphony in its heyday and all are distinctly more flexible than the rather metronomic Herreweghe. He has an orchestra of only 76 instrumentalists playing on gut strings and replica period instruments without much vibrato and thus distinctly underpowered at key points.

Hence the opening has little glow or tension about it; instead of hearing the stirrings of a big beast in that hesitant thrumming of that opening theme, we are almost listening to the town band run through a practice exercise and we lack the sense of building essential to Bruckner long, arcing conceptions. Thus the first movement jog-trots without the requisite variation in weight of sound or dynamics and the impact of the chorale is diminished. To be fair, the conclusion is ethereal but so delicate as to fail to gather momentum and the climax disappoints.

Similarly, the stern prophet's voice which opens the Adagio is muted by the lack of vibrato and the strings' line bulges and whines for the same reason. The melody literally cannot sing because the orchestra is doing the instrumental equivalent of humming. Nonetheless, the music itself is so beautiful and the playing so dedicated, with fine intonation, that they almost get away with it. Once gain again, however, the climax fails to overwhelm; compensation comes in the form of the ravishing horn and Wagner tuba playing over the last minute or so.

The Scherzo is pretty foolproof in the hands of any decent conductor and Herreweghe captures its mood without it sounding exactly demonic. The Finale constitutes the greatest disappointment; there simply isn't enough caressing of the music in the quiet passages and the big, bombastic utterances in march time are prosaic.

What is Bruckner if you deliberately underplay his Romanticism and spirituality? Certainly not what he intended us to understand him to be. This is an interesting experiment in re-thinking his most popular symphony but not one, I think, which ultimately honours his spirit.
13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Bruckner Lite-OK Live Recording March 18 2005
By Timothy Dougal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is the first Bruckner I've heard on period instruments, but the result is more cuious than convincing. The outer movements lack urgnecy or mystery in Herreweghe's hands, and instead come off rather bouncy, a word which I would not have thought could be applied to Bruckner. The Adagia is solemn but lacking in passion. The Scherzo is pretty good. The recording job is OK. It's a stealth 'live' job, since nowhere on the box or notes does it acutally say so, but on headphone the audiance presence is clear.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
beautiful original instrument Bruckner Aug. 3 2011
By Laurence Levine - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This was a beautifully done surprise, with exceptionally well chosen tempi and urtext edition. This is an excellent first choice for a Bruckner 7th. Of course there are others out there as well. The magisterial Klemperer. The beautiful Walter. Any of the perhaps definitive Furtwangler and if you can find it the incredibly forthright (Be warned,it contains acetate gaps)live 1935 New York Philharmonic Toscanini performance.


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