You don't succeed in recording the Bruckner symphonies unless you start with a first-rate orchestra and a conductor who knows the music. Naxos is to be commended for putting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra at the disposal of Viennese-born Georg Tintner for its recent round of Bruckner recordings, which includes this inspired account of the Seventh Symphony. Tintner, whose death by suicide in October 1999 left many in the music world with a deep sense of loss, was an old-school Brucknerian with a master's ear for texture and an infallible sense of pacing and rubato. This reading of the Seventh, recorded in 1997 when he was 80, unfolds majestically and has an inner fire reminiscent of the best of Jochum's highly regarded accounts.
Tintner uses the Haas edition of the score (Bruckner lovers disagree passionately over editions, but, generally speaking, the Haas edition is superior to the later Nowak), and rightly eschews the cymbal crash at the climax of the Adagio. With outstanding help from the SNO, particularly its resplendent brass section, he creates a living, breathing tissue of sound across all four movements of the symphony, making a statement as gentle, noble, and radiant as the music itself. The recording is top-notch, and there are excellent notes by Tintner himself that shed welcome light on the music as well as the interpreter. Those who come to Bruckner for the first time through these recordings will have much to be grateful for, both to Naxos and to Tintner. --Ted Libbey