So where do I start, listening to this new release of the Bruckner eighth symphony, with Music Director Simone Young leading the Hamburg band? Let's start with Young's previous outings. She has already given us three compelling super audio surround sound readings of the second, third, and fourth symphonies. She preferred the original edition of the fourth, too. If I'm going to hear that original version, then it will have to be Young in Hamburg, or Nagano in Munich.
I confess I like the revised fourth and eighth symphonies, with my own personal choice of the eighth being something like the hybrid edition that Georg Tintner did for his Naxos disc. One of my most compelling eighths is still the EMI single disc reading with Maazel leading the BerlinPO. I also like Solti's eighth from Vienna, which I think has just been newly released on Eloquence, single disc? I'm keeping the Japan super audio surround remasterings of Gunter Wand in Berlin; plus Karl Bohm and Carlo Maria Giulini in Vienna.
(I still think I've got Klemperer's eighth, too, but I've misplaced it on the back storage shelves. I keep wondering if or when, EMI might get around to remastering the Klemperer readings in super audio. Such Beethoven, Brahms, Schumann, Mozart - already in the can. So far EMI is really dragging their technical feet, despite the fact that they sit on great holdings in the classical music catalog. Blue ray now confuses the high resolution re-release questions further, by competing it would seem with DSD super audio. Tired of the format wars, yet?)
Just as in Young's earlier Oehms discs, the high resolution surround sound captured on these discs is state of the art. I haven't heard the red book layer of this set yet; I assume I will get around to portable listening, sooner or later. But part of the glory of the Young's Bruckner cycle in Hamburg so far must surely be the warm glow, heft, vigor, and detail of her current band's sound in the hall, a traditional Laeiszhalle. You are simply immersed in surround sound, all to winning musical and recorded impact. Young goes for a more old-fashioned, fat, big band sound - compared to say, Nagano, who likes his Bruckner to show off remarkable discipline in the lean-athletic string sections. Young's sense of Bruckner - rich, luxurious, fat enough to be ponderous except for her drive? - is closer to Kubelik in Bavaria? Hamburg is eagerly anticipating a new venue, the Elbe complex; yet one hopes that Young and the players will finish their Bruckner cycle in the Laeiszhalle, resisting pressures to show off the new hall when it opens. Can they record something else there, as needed?
If anybody can convince me to hear the original versions of the Bruckner eighth, it will be Simone Young in Hamburg, or the surround masters of Wand in Berlin. As it happens the original version as it unfolds under Young's sure hand, does indeed look back; more towards the early symphonies than later versions. Bruckner originally wrote a less single-minded structure of four movements, with plenty of nostalgic lyrical passages that sound reflections of even his second or third symphonies. Sitting back with Young, a listener simply is drawn into that other lush sound world - and if you have been enjoying the second, third, original fourth symphonies fired up by Young in Hamburg - you will be nourished by the unhurried depth, detail, and ice to fire colors of her Hamburg eighth. I've allowed myself to revel in her reading, too. I have alternatives, I have Young. Big welcome to the keeper shelves.
Strongly recommended, especially in high resolution super audio surround sound.