Originally published on May 18
There are plenty of Bruckner Seven recordings out there, beginning in 1928 with Jascha Horenstein in Berlin, its already-large discography recently increased by François-Xavier Roth, https://www.colinscolumn.com/gurzenich-orchester-koln-francois-xavier-roth-records-anton-bruckners-seventh-symphony-for-myrios/, and Paavo Järvi, https://www.colinscolumn.com/paavo-jarvi-tonhalle-orchester-zurich-record-bruckners-seventh-symphony-for-alpha-classics/. Both of the newcomers offer stiff competition to Lahav Shani, let alone documents left to us by, say, Celibidache, Giulini, Karajan and Klemperer, and they’re the tip of the iceberg. This Rotterdam recording (June last year, De Doelen) gets off to slightly spooky start when the (right-positioned) second violins can’t quite agree on pitch. It settles in a thrice, the first movement unfolded at a moderate if flowing tempo without quite establishing a particular sensibility or viewpoint, although conducted wholesomely and played warmly, if a little brass-heavy. This lack of magnetism changes at 13:21 when a certain darkness emerges to involving affect, suddenly there is purpose to this performance, something dramatic, confirmed by the timpani crescendo (marking these instruments’ first appearance), from 17:04, which is made something of, so too wailing woodwinds. The Adagio (which would have benefitted from a few more seconds of intervening silence before starting) is very well done, intense and eloquent, the introduction of the Moderato section (4:03) perfectly related and beautifully shaped, strings impressive in terms of sheen and tonal depth, the cymbal-capped climax (this is Nowak’s edition) arrived at patiently and with an expectation that is gloriously fulfilled, the music’s subsequent mourning (RIP Richard Wagner) realised with sad dignity. The Scherzo is rhythmically alert and powerful, the Trio richly moulded, and the Finale is clear-sighted, through its Haydn-esque passages (to my mind), solemn tread, brassy flare-ups, and the ultimate coda, triumphantly delivered. Warner Classics 5419761966 is released on June 9.