Herbert Blomstedt Conducts Symphonies by Bruckner and Schubert

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bruckner,Schubert
LABELS: Da Capo
ALBUM TITLE: bruckner • schubert
WORKS: Schubert: Symphony No. 8 in B minor (Unfinished); Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 in E
PERFORMER: Danish National Symphony Orchestra/Herbert Blomstedt
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 2.110416  

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Herbert Blomstedt is a senior conductor of the old school, genial – he spends a lot of time smiling at the orchestra – relaxed, showing no sign of acknowledging recent trends in interpretation: all told, a great relief. In the nobly austere setting of Denmark’s Roskilde Cathedral he shows the warm relationship he has with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and that they all have with the music. 

The performance of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, here confusingly called No. 7, is on a broad scale, with a vast dynamic range, and in the slow movement much exquisite rubato for the exquisite wind solos. This is a tragic view of the work, and it makes a wonderful lead-in to Bruckner’s  Symphony No. 7, which also receives a loving though not a highly emotional performance – though I missed what used to be considered the ‘invalid’ cymbal clash at the climax of the second movement, but isn’t any longer. It is a straightforward account, not plumbing the emotional depths nor scaling the heights, and with a lean string sound which deprives it of a little of its warmth. The acoustic of the cathedral does seem to be very resonant, however, and Blomstedt may have been trying to make sure that echoes weren’t too long. It makes for a satisfying if not for a great concert, though not one which helps me to understand why Blomstedt has such an immense cult status.

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Michael Tanner