This is a bluray reissue of the original 2011 dvd release which garnered much praise when it came out. I have not seen that dvd, but this new bluray is special indeed!
It is no secret that Franz Welser-Most has his own special way with Bruckner. This is the original complete Nowak (1887) version of the 8th. Symphony, taking all of 90 minutes, The fact that Welser-Most can keep its pulse intact for the whole duration, while not ignoring the nuances of a sensitive interpretation, is no mean feat, and this performance never loses its impetus.The Clevelanders are on top of their game. It's hard to single out any section - they're all brilliant in this music.
The glorious Adagio is 30 minutes of pure beauty - just exquisite. The opening fanfare of brass and timpani in the finale will make your hair stand on end, and it doesn't seem anticlimactic through the rest of the movement. The first allegro is well paced and the scherzo (not one of Bruckner's strongest, in my opinion)is played to the hilt.
Welser-Most's conducting style is restrained, but his eyes say a lot, and his arm and body movements are graceful (the polar opposite of Bernstein, say). He understands Bruckner's musical demands, and uses the reverb. time of the hall to determine his choice of tempi. The resultant audio here is wonderful - that real full "cathedral of sound" so essential to a great Bruckner performance - as opposed to the rather analytical sound with short reverb on the new Abbado/Lucerne Bruckner 5.
The video is very good but not perfect - a bit too much color saturation from some cameras (too orange). Split-screen shots are used sparingly, but effectively.
A nice touch here was the interview not only with the conductor, but with William Cosel, recording director, who has been around the block a few times when it comes to recording concerts. Cosel introduced all his cameramen individually, from their vantage points in the hall - a generous gesture. Welser-Most is always instructive in his interviews without lecturing.
The only other video I have seen of #8 is the Wand(2000) on TDK. It uses the 1890 Haas version, and also takes 90 minutes, but somehow it seems longer. Perhaps this is an old man's last attempt at the piece versus Welser-Most's more thrusting traversal.
I hope the Welser-Most ninth appears on bluray also, and it sure would be nice to get a fourth and sixth from this same source.
Well worth $30 of anybody's money!