ALBUM TITLE: Bruckner: Symphony No. 7
WORKS: Symphony No. 7
PERFORMER: Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer
CATALOGUE NO: CCS SA 33714 (hybrid CD/SACD)
There used to be few things more dispiriting than a performance of a Bruckner symphony which constantly sat down in the course of the music. The Seventh’s first movement tempo direction is ‘moderately lively’, so it should move on, even in the opening contemplative section. Iván Fischer manages this well and also avoids creating an orchestral sound which is the equivalent of a warm bath rather than an invigorating shower. There’s a pleasing clarity of texture, helped by the focused playing and excellently balanced recording. That doesn’t mean that Romantic ideals of rubato and dynamic flexibility are abandoned, as the shapely introduction shows; and although he knocks a minute or more off the timing of some older conductors, there’s never a sense of haste.
Similarly, in the scherzo, the ‘very fast’ tempo that Bruckner asks for is enhanced by a lift in the phrasing which makes the music dance; and the trio, although slower, isn’t indulgent. Before that, the Adagio, dedicated to the memory of Wagner, isn’t entirely clothed in mourning but also allows the music to move on where it’s needed. The big climax is the one place where I wish that Fischer had taken more time, but it fits in with his concept of the Symphony as a whole. As does the finale, which has an urgency in tempo and articulation to bring the Symphony to a rousing conclusion.