Bruckner: Symphony No.8

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bruckner
LABELS: Profil
WORKS: Symphony No. 8
PERFORMER: Dresden Staatskapelle/Christian Thielemann
CATALOGUE NO: Profil PH10031

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The Dresden Staatskapelle is the world’s oldest symphony orchestra and still one of the greatest. This is the performance, given in September 2009, which led the orchestra to appoint Christian Thielemann as their principal conductor.

It’s persuasive and grand – the players give their all. On the whole, the interpretation is much superior to any other Bruckner performance I have heard from Thielemann.  

Like Karajan, whose assistant he was in the last decade of his life, Thielemann favours a monumental approach to Bruckner: if architecture is, in Hegel’s phrase, frozen music, then this is thawing architecture – or rather the first two movements are.

After that, the last two, which account for most of the work, are more flexible, in one way more relaxed, in another more intense. The sublime slow movement is quite glorious, even if less expressive than the very greatest accounts. But the last, which can seem so episodic and wilful, is paradoxically approached with a lighter touch. 

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There is extraordinarily full documentation in the accompanying booklet, and the sheer sound of these discs is magnificent. Any lover of this great work will want to add this issue to their collection, and it wouldn’t be a bad place to start. Michael Tanner