ALBUM TITLE: Bruckner Symphony No. 7
WORKS: Symphony No. 7
PERFORMER: Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim
CATALOGUE NO: ACC 202177
This series of Bruckner Symphonies, recorded live at the Philharmonie Berlin in June 2010, goes from strength to strength with an absolutely superb performance of the Seventh. As with previous releases, the playing of the Berlin Staatskapelle is beyond reproach as the musicians respond to every nuance in Barenboim’s conducting with the subtlety, tonal variety and refinement of seasoned chamber musicians. Furthermore, whereas the conductor’s approach to the outer movements of the Fifth (released last year) seemed somewhat episodic, here Barenboim manages to draw the threads together with magnificent organic cohesion. Initially you might think that the tempo adopted for the opening of the first movement is far too broad for there to be any sense of forward momentum. But the fluidity with which Barenboim moulds the expansive melodic lines is such that at no point does anything sound stodgy, and the long build-ups to the climaxes have a real sense of inevitability.
Similar qualities abound in the Adagio where Barenboim coaxes the strings to project such a wonderfully warm and sonorous timbre in their impassioned phrasing of the chorale-like idea. Once again the movement unfolds at the broadest possible tempo. Yet the intensity grows with each return of the opening material until it reaches a point of deliverance with the awesome cymbal crash near the end.
Barenboim takes the Scherzo at a more deliberate pace than many other conductors, but this actually serves to enhance the music’s inner rhythmic drive. Likewise, the Finale, which can sometimes seem a little lightweight in comparison with the rest of the symphony, benefits immeasurably from Barenboim’s powerful surging interpretation. Discreet camera work operates in tandem with the performance to make this a wholly memorable experience.