Bruckner: Symphony No. 5

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Bruckner
LABELS: Koch Discover
WORKS: Symphony No. 5
PERFORMER: BRTN PO/Alexander Rahbari
CATALOGUE NO: DICD 920430
The important recording here is Georg Tintner’s set with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland of the 1887 edition of the Eighth Symphony. This is the score as it reached the conductor Hermann Levi, who had premiered the Seventh but was baffled by its successor and turned it down. Once he had recovered from the blow to his confidence and self-esteem, Bruckner set to work refashioning the symphony during 1889-90. The differences are both substantial and of enormous interest. Bruckner composed a new ending for the first movement, completely rewrote the trio of the scherzo, made structural alterations in the slow movement and cuts in the finale. The 1887 version runs to 90 minutes, about ten minutes longer than the definitive version. He also made many striking changes to the orchestration. This is a text of absorbing fascination and as earlier issues in his cycle have shown, Georg Tintner is totally dedicated: he gives you Bruckner pure and true with no ponderous frills. The Dublin orchestra responds well to Tintner’s direction, but the recording, while perfectly acceptable, is a bit shallow at big climaxes. The youthful Symphony ‘No. 0’ also comes off well. At the price this is an outstanding bargain but neither as orchestral playing nor recording is it a match for Karajan’s noble Vienna Philharmonic account of the definitive version.

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On the Discover label, Alexander Rahbari and the Belgian Radio and TV Philharmonic Orchestra give a generally well-shaped and serviceable account of the Fifth, with decent enough orchestral playing and sound. All the same, in the final analysis it falls short of real distinction and does not resonate in the memory. Robert Layton