Bruckner: Symphony No. 7

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bruckner
LABELS: Oehms Classics
WORKS: Symphony No. 7
PERFORMER: Hamburg Philharmonic/Simone Young
CATALOGUE NO: OC 688 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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The most apposite word I can apply to Simone Young’s approach to Bruckner is ‘fluidity’. Steering a middle course between the more severe quasi-Classical readings that have surfaced in recent years and a propensity for sharp juxtapositions of tempos and exaggerated rhetoric espoused by conductors following in the footsteps of Wilhelm Furtwängler and Eugen Jochum, she allows the lyrical melodies of the first two movements to unfold naturally and with a good sense of structural cohesion. Perhaps the music’s visionary and mystical elements are less in evidence: for example, the apocalyptic climax near the end of the slow movement, here performed with the controversial cymbal crash, isn’t quite as overwhelming an experience as one might have wished.

Nonetheless there is much else to savour. The playing of the Hamburg Philharmonic is uniformly excellent, their burnished sound wonderfully captured by Oehms’s engineers in this luxuriant SACD recording. Particularly admirable is the expressive warmth that Young draws from the strings in the central part of the Scherzo – an episode that can sometimes sound a little understated. I also like the forward momentum with which she drives the Finale to its conclusion. Somewhat disappointingly, however, the coda doesn’t quite have the sense of arrival and closure that the passage warrants, leading me to wonder whether this part of the live performance was patched without the presence of an audience so as to obviate the sound of clapping.

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Erik Levi