Symphony No 8 AUS-Import
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|1. Symphony No. 8 In C Minor: 1. Allegro Moderato|
|2. Symphony No. 8 In C Minor: 2. Scherzo. Allegro Moderato - Trio. Langsam - Scherzo da Capo|
|3. Symphony No. 8 In C Minor: 3. Adagio. Feierlich langsam, doch nicht schleppend|
|4. Symphony No. 8 In C Minor: 4. Finale. Feierlich, nicht schnell|
Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 in C Minor
When word got out that Pierre Boulez was planning to record the mammoth Eighth Symphony of Anton Bruckner, the reaction in some quarters was akin to the announcement that a leading Marxist intellectual had accepted the CEO position at General Motors. While Boulez has already acclimated the music world to his latter-day interest in the core symphonic repertory with his recent performances of Mahler, the sense of incongruity with Bruckner's mystical solemnity seemed too great a leap to expect from the famous apostle of the avant-garde.
Forget about those prejudices--Boulez's accomplishment here is arguably even more successful than his accounts of Mahler. It also offers a fascinatingly fresh view of the great symphonist, who some feel will finally come into his own in the 21st century. Stereotypes of Boulez's razor-sharp, "cerebral" bias don't do justice to the sensuous pleasure he can elicit from the Vienna Philharmonic's musicians, a detailed alertness to Bruckner's instrumental touches that are too often overshadowed by focus on his architectonics. Boulez, of course, has a command of the latter as well, and his brisk pacing of the Robert Haas compilation/edition creates a sense of momentum and flow that's particularly striking in his brilliant realization of the Scherzo and the Finale.
True, there's less of the "apocalyptic" (an epithet sometimes given to this symphony), of the crushing tragedy, one hears in Karajan's canonical interpretation or the fine version by Skrowaczewski, and Boulez's chary avoidance of pauses in the celestial Adagio cheats us of the near-death-experience-in-music that comes through in Celibidache's glacial but visionary concert recording. But that sense of detail--witness the balance of horns and strings in the Adagio's closing pages--counts for much. Moreover, this live recording gains warmth from the acoustics of the Abbey Church of St. Florian--where Bruckner served as organist, and where his body is buried--and benefits from excellent engineering. Ironic as it might seem, Boulez may indeed win new converts to Bruckner with this performance. --Thomas May
Top Customer Reviews
Boulez does not give you the majestic bowl-you-over power one often associates with Bruckner's music, especially when conducted by someone like von Karajan. If you want to experience why this symphony is sometimes referred to as the "Apocalyptic", this is not the recording for you.
On the other hand, Boulez reads this score with sensitivity and attention to detail, which are well-brought-out in the crystal-clear sound of this recording. The Vienna Philharmonic, as so often when playing Bruckner, is wonderful.
I like the somewhat faster tempos, not least of all because it enables the recording to fit on one disc. I have always thought the first two movements did better when played at faster tempos; I almost never listened to the 2nd-4th movements of Giulini's great recording on DG with the VPO because I found his first movement so trying.
That being said, I didn't find Boulez's first movement entirely satisfying; it *does* lose something when the climaxes are not performed with the accustomed Bruckner "umph". I liked the second movement a lot; "deutscher Michel" or no, I think it comes off better with Boulez's lighter-footed interpretation than most other performances I've heard.
I actually enjoyed the slow movement. Boulez opens with a mood that is restrained and contemplative rather than brooding and tragic, then allows the emotion and profundity of this great movement to unfold naturally, rather than straining to drag greatness out of every bar. In spite of the short timing (less than 25 minutes), the music did not sound rushed at all to me.
I run hot and cold on the Finale.Read more ›
However, there is a lack of all things grotesque. This version tends to smooth out the VU meters. Instead of going from silent to bombastic and back again, we get a lot more consistency of sound. One can't imagine Anton approving of the style and execution here... However, he is long gone and the rest of us have to decide what to do with the score.
Along side his Mahler, Boulez seeks to take a fresh approach in this interpretation of another great Viennese symphonist who, like Mahler, also wrote to nine. He succeeds in taking yet again a fresh approach. Gone are the organ-like orgiastic highs on horns. Gone are the long silences and the nail biting buildups to nirvana. Gone is the brass hair-raising that makes the windows rattle. Besides, you won't find anything sinister lurking behind one of these buildups. Instead, this is Bruckner for those who don't really care for Bruckner. Its as if Haydn himself got hold of the score and rewrote it for the occasion of this recording, adding little insights here, comedy there. Has anyone ever heard Bruckner like this in the concert hall?
The Sound: The timpani are boomy and muddy by contrast and the brass is strangely constrained. The interplay of the timpani in the Scherzo with the strings is highly irregular. In some cases it's as though the timpani and brass are off stage as in Holst's final movement of The Planets.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Many reviews have already been written so I shall make it short.
For me the most beautiful piece written by Bruckner (next to his glorious and spiritual adagio of the 5th) is... Read more
If you're acquainted with Bruckner's Eighth, and very much like hearing it the way you're used to, this is not the album for you. Read morePublished on April 3 2003 by Mr John Haueisen
I have Giulini's 1980's version also on the DG yellow record label and I found that performance to be a bit more fierce, even with the somewhat slower tempos. Read morePublished on Sept. 3 2001
To paraphrase Dr. Johnson, Boulez conducting Bruckner is like a dog standing on its hind legs: it isn't done very well, but you are surprised that it is done at all. Read morePublished on Aug. 24 2001 by Richard Steiger
I first heard Bruckner's 8th in a live Furtwangler recording. I was particularly drawn to the scherzo which had an unbelievable diabolic taut energy. Read morePublished on April 12 2001
If you believe you understand the power of music to speak in spiritual language then prepare yourself. Read morePublished on Jan. 4 2001 by Grady Harp
First things first: the Vienna Philharmonic pretty much owns this symphony on records, and they play with their accustomed brilliance here. Read morePublished on Jan. 3 2001 by Gene Bivins
I bought this with some reservation. My opinion of Boulez as a clinical conductor altered when I bought some of his Mahler performances which have shaken much of the dust out of... Read morePublished on Nov. 24 2000 by Russell Jackson