Bruckner: Symphony No. 8

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bruckner
LABELS: RCO Live
ALBUM TITLE: Bruckner Symphony No. 8
WORKS: Symphony No. 8
PERFORMER: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Bernard Haitink
CATALOGUE NO: RCO 05003
Just over forty years ago, Bernard Haitink began recording what still holds up as one of the finest Bruckner cycles currently available. But it has to be admitted that the Eighth Symphony was possibly the weakest link in the chain. Four decades later, Haitink’s Eighth has matured formally. This new No. 8 has grandeur and strong architectural balance, and although Haitink still starts the finale rather like a cavalry charge (so much for Bruckner’s restraining ‘Not fast’), he maintains the momentum through the long slower sections well enough for this not to be seriously frustrating. What bothers me about this new Eighth is that expressive edge and intensity seem to have been sacrificed to a more impersonal plushness of sound – the temple is lavishly furnished, but the more intimate, human element is largely absent. The best balance of traditional-monumental with personal urgency and vision is still to be found with Günter Wand with the Berlin Philharmonic. Stephen Johnson

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