Symphony No. 8 (1890 version)
Linz Bruckner Orchestra/Markus Poschner
Capriccio C 8081 76:16 mins
The rate at which recordings of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony are issued is astonishing. Even more remarkable is that many of them are issued as part of a complete cycle. This one is part of the Linz Bruckner Symphony Orchestra’s cycle under Markus Poschner, a gifted artist but one who has so far made less impact on the musical world than I would have expected from this recording. His early teachers included such un-Brucknerian characters as Roger Norrington, but Poschner seems to have emerged unharmed.
Perhaps the comparative leanness of sound he obtains from the LBSO has to do with his training; or perhaps that is the result of the relatively medium size of the orchestra. At any rate, this recording might have been made as a rebuttal of the inert Vienna Philharmonic recording under Thielemann, with which it contrasts in most ways. Bruckner should sound as unlike Richard Strauss as possible: despite the huge forces he employs, and the conspicuous use of the harp at key points, especially the climax of the third movement, there should be an element of austerity.
Without being notably faster than the majority of contemporary accounts, this performance is much more flexible, less cumbersome, more of an experience and less of a monument. I found it refreshing, especially in the last two movements, which between them can last almost an hour and make you forget the thrust and energy of the first two, and indeed of this supreme work as a whole. Played and conducted like this, the work’s unity becomes much clearer, and it emerges, at least for me, as the greatest of all symphonies, though in the wrong hands it becomes a weariness for the spirit.