Magazine article Gramophone

Bruckner: Complete Symphonies

Magazine article Gramophone

Bruckner: Complete Symphonies

Article excerpt

Bruckner [DO]

Complete Symphonies (Nos 1-9) Staatskapelle Berlin / Daniel Barenboim Peral (B)[DO] 481 2407 (9h 8' * DDD * peralmusic.com) Recorded live at the Philharmonie Berlin, June 20-27, 2010 (Nos 4-9); Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, June 7-9, 2012 (Nos 1-3)

This download-only release from Peral brings together the various instalments of Daniel Barenboim's third Bruckner cycle in a single format for the first time. Symphonies Nos 1-3 have been available as downloads since 2014 but Nos 4-9 were previously released on the Accentus label only in Blu-ray Disc or DVD format, apart from Symphony No 7, which was also released on CD by DG (7/12).

Barenboim's previous cycle with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra for Teldec was mostly recorded at live concerts, and this new cycle with the Berlin Staatskapelle follows suit. Unlike the Teldec recordings, however, which were assembled over a span of seven years, this new set originates over a much shorter period of time. Indeed, Symphonies Nos 4-9 were recorded in little more than a week during a series of concerts in June 2010. This brings an impressive consistency of approach but also results in some less positive features being replicated across the cycle. Among these is the rather arbitrary approach to dynamics noted by Richard Osborne in his review of the Blu-ray of the Sixth Symphony (4/14), as well as a general lack of truly quiet playing. And while the recording quality is perfectly transparent at moderate volumes, it tends towards cloudiness during fff passages, robbing climaxes of their impact. Recordings also appear to be unedited, reproducing all the inevitable mishaps of live performances. Most of these are minor, although the absence of the first fff timpani stroke at fig Q (14'46") in the finale of the Fifth Symphony is particularly conspicuous. Audience noise is minimal but applause has been retained after Nos 4-9.

With regard to the ever-complex issue of texts, Barenboim is unbeholden to any particular editorial authority, choosing Haas for Nos 4 and 8, Nowak for Nos 1, 5, 6, 7 and 9, Carragan for No 2 and Oeser for No 3. The First Symphony uses the familiar 1877 revision of the Linz score, although curiously the ascending phrase for solo cello in bar 325 of the first movement (12'01") is played by the full section, a detail normally heard in the 1891 Vienna version. Barenboim also adds timpani to the climax of the chorale in the first movement of the Fourth Symphony, a feature of the later 1888 edition, although he eschews the unmarked cymbal clash that some conductors adopt near the start of the fourth movement. …

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