WORKS: Symphony No. 7
PERFORMER: CBSO/Simon Rattle
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 56425 2
For all the complaints about the record industry’s over-duplication of core repertoire, there will always be room for the sort of rethink demonstrated by Simon Rattle’s first wholehearted foray into Bruckner. For a conductor most admired for his work in the more orchestrally ‘colourful’ end of the repertoire, music as solidly Teutonic as Bruckner’s might seem like alien territory for him. But, as he has also revealed in his Beethoven and Brahms, Rattle has the ability to make the most seemingly monochrome of orchestral palettes live anew. He brings a rare translucency to Bruckner’s textures without it ever being at the expense of weight in the climaxes. Similarly, his structural approach is refreshing, with the sprawling first movement given a sense of continuity, a careful delineation of the layered expanses of the slow movement and a culminatory energy brought to the finale.
This recording was made around the time of Rattle and the CBSO’s memorable Prom performance of the work in 1996 and there remains the feeling of an interpretation having been worked at and ‘worn in’. The CBSO playing can match any in the catalogue and the recording of the Symphony Hall acoustic captures all the gradations of dynamic and the full bloom of the orchestra’s sound. Matthew Rye