Review by Edvin February 6, 2007 (8 of 9 found this review helpful)
|The Swedish conductor Herbert Blomstedt recorded two Bruckner symphonies for Denon in the eighties. The fourth and the seventh and the latter is in my opinion one of the finest ever. This no 8 shows him as the great Bruckner conductor he is, recorded at his last concert with his Gewandhaus Orchestra in 2005.
This is a great performance. Blomstedt is a very kind person and his music making reflects that. His ego is not up among the clouds, even though he is a devout Seventh-day Adventist. Don´t expect a Karajan like perfomance, red hot and almost hysterically intense at times. Nor Haitink´s bold and broad colourings. Blomstedt is leaner, almost chamber music-like at times. Or at least more intimate - always searching for the heart and the line. I mean, if you listen to the opening of the slow movement you will hopefully know what I mean. Not so much vibrato but very expressive. The slow movement takes 29:52 and every second is a heart warming experience. There is so much sadness in this music performed this way. It is like Blomstedt had found a secret document not read by anyone before him. This music communicates to me and I listened to the symphony twice this evening. The ending of this movement is marvellously Wagnerian. Luxuriously so.
First movement. Perfect tempo and great playing. The climax near the end is for me the most angst ridden in all music. It is a black hole of nothingness. Blomstedt doesn´t quite conjure up that feeling, but then..who does. Karajan does, and Karajan alone. It is still a powerful and bleak ending.
The scherzo is swift and echoing round the mountains. Marvellous.
The finale is a great summing up. I love all these tempo changes, so subtle and sensitive. Also a lot of pure power and force, this is no laid back performance. The phrasing is so sensitive all the time. This symphony is not easy to bring off, it can be more parts than a whole. Blomstedt is an experienced musician and he holds it all together pefectly. The parts becomes a sum and in the end the result is one of the finest Bruckner eights ever. In my opinion.
In the slow movement, the climax is followed by the string melody in its full glory. Blomstedt makes a heavy accent on each note of the tune, and I like it more each time I hear it. Instead of the broad, almost syrapy melody, we get a statement from a tortured soul.
The sound is excellent but I have a suspicion that this was not meant to be a commercial release from the start. It sounds very live with some coughs, not many, and rustle between movements. Applause is included, not only after the concert but also before. The dynamic range could have been wider with the fortissimos nailing me to the wall. I always want more.
I rate this performance higher than the RCO Live Haitink. There is an element of routine in the Haitink performance and the sound is a bit dull. This is much more alive.
The Gewandhaus responds with a glowing sound and everyone is on their toes for the Swedish maestro. It is a pity that they didn´t make more records together. Our loss, as you can hear from this jewl. Oh, almost forgot, the rears are discreet. Haas version.
Definately a record of the year, already.
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