This recording of Anton Bruckner's biggest, most complex and prodigious symphony, by a conductor known for his dispassionate approach and disdain for the grand Romantic gesture, came as a complete surprise. It's a stunning performance, one of the very best I've heard. He clocks in -- at 76 minutes -- on one disk, but like most conductors who manage this feat (Klaus Tennstedt excepted), he doesn't give the least impression of being in a rush or short-changing Brucknerian majesty. Perhaps he's at his most distinctive in the transitional passages; too often, they become mere note-spinning, when Bruckner obviously lavished them with as much love as on his massive climaxes. Boulez gives them shape and makes them sing. Always the most erratic of conductors, does Boulez lose interest during the rehearsal period, or what? But this issue justifies his reputation. I'm looking forward to more of his Bruckner, and am especially eager to hear what this French intellectual hears in the prescient Ninth.