12-26-13 AS THE previous reviewer stated, this is the 3rd ecording of the Bruckner 5th Symphony by Maestro Haitink, with different orchestras and it may be his best. This release was recorded in super audio on Feb. 20,2010 in the Munich PHILHARMONIE and runs a sumptuous 75:35.
The openiung series of plucked note in their downward staircaSE, ARE BARELY AUDIBLE, BUT WHEN THE ORCHESTRA ENTERS WITH IT'S FANFAREtheme, he main theme of the movement and actually the central idea of the whole work, their first appearance is stunning and rich.HAITINK RESISTS THE COMMON PRACTICE OIf speeding up to the first theme as most conductyors do. He maintains the tension and tempo which I AGREE WITH.Marked simply Intro-Adagio, allegro, there is from the composer a clear demarkation between the two sections, whic Haitink faithfully observes.Throughout the movement, and indeed the entire symphony, the masetro controls the volume controls very nicely and one gets the impression that he is doing a concert/demo for us. However, that doen't mean it is cold or matter of factly played . This is a concert like performance and we ARE his audience. The movement end with strong and heroic restatements of the main theme, putting a grand bow on the package.
The Adagio is marked "sehr langsam," and Haitink plays it as it is instructed.After the intro, the smooth transition, at 02:00 leads us into one of Bruckner's lushest and most beautiful themes in all his work, warmly stated by the full string choir of the Bavarian RADIO, IT IS ELEGANT, NOBLE AND TOUCHING. Once again, Haitink's orchestral swells are finely tailored and cleanly presented. This is one of the many trademarks of this great maestro, and something you can hewar on all his ecordings. Over all these years, he has refused to be swept up into a frenzythat most conductors do, in the name of dramaq anmd excitement. He would say, "it's all in the notes," and he is right. It has become commonplace to say this---"He brings to the fore that which lies between and beyond the notes, and thus produces a great work." Thise are lofty and enticing words but they are just fluff, and here's why> What lies between and beyond the notes, is so ambiguous and filled with so much peculation, conjecture and subjectivity, that the results could be so far ranging that we could loose sight of the composer's original message, and indeed, push it aside in favor of the conductor's own vision. This is a problem, a huge problem and is reflected with phrasses like Maestro XYZ and HIS XYZ ORCHESTRA, PLAYING THE SYMPHONY #SUCH AND SUCH. GET MY POINT? I believe I had read, in an interview that Haitink gave to the BBC, some thing like, "My job is to stay out of the way in the music and allow the composer to speak directly to the audience". This idea makes the conductor's job rather easy then, just so as long as he DOESstay out of the way. He can simply allow the music to speak for itself, as most music can and does, but with grea pieces,, ther often seems to be something a little extra here and there to require the maestro to interveine.
I imagine Haitink could recall a few places where he COULD of stepped in but didn't and perhaps the music suffered a tiny bit because of it. Still, staying the course is the everall better plaan as humans tend to go overboard.
The beautiful Adagio unfolds like a flower in a sunny summer gardenbathed in the warmth of the miday sun.
It is rich and gentle this uplifting theme and one's eyes and thoughts seem to naturally elevate. This Adagio was Bruckner's first long arcingslow movement and served as a sort of template for future symphonies, notably the final trio of 7th, 8th and 9th symphonies. Haitink handles the balances between the rising cresendos in the brass and the gently fading strings. As the two forces meet and sort of melt into each other the results seemm to be like a hugh orchestral counterpoint excercise. It is also a glorious result whhich I found very moving and grand. The coda is simply rapterous.
THE FINALE is another Adagio-ALLEGRO MOVEMENT AND TURNS INTO A MAGNIFICENT ORCHESTRAL fugue that runs for 25:14. This is a tricky movement in that it sounds, at first, as though all you have to do is let the music play itself out but this is a false judgement. This Finale is a challenge or all conductors as there are several points where the music MUST be steered by a careful hand with an understanding sense of pacing and building up the tension as well as the energy. Restraint is very important here and Maestro Haitinkis a master of this necessary tool, as he has demonstarted all his career in every type of music . I know of no other conductor who can make this claimover such a long period as can this Dutch Master.The question here is this.WHERE does the Finale actually begin? I still find this a dificult location to define but a very close listening to this entire movement seems to support the actual finale as having begun at the 10:06 mark. THE MUSIC ALTERNATES BETWEEN LIGHT DANCE RHYTHMS AND GRAND STATEMENTS as the ideas counter each other wondefullyvying for our attention, and finally in the coda, the grand sounds win out and take us into the last pages of this epic work. There really is nothing else like it in the world quite like it. Pacing is important and Haitink and his Bavarian Radio orchestra unite for a smashing conclusionthat makes everything sound simple, yet it isn't that simple. At the _21:52 mark, the musci slows down with a firm hand on the brakes to introduce the last sentence, pouring out of the brass laden ending with great majesty and glory. A thrilling end is now upon us. A superb 5th Symphony from these forces and as I said earlier, perhaps his best 5th to date. I would now say "Yes, this IS his finest 5th ever. Wonderful job by all and a hugh 5 star award as very high recommendation Don't wait , but it today before the price raises up. Happy listening and God Bles all , Tony>