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Bruckner: Symphony No 5 / Schaller, Philharmonie Festiva

Bruckner / Gerd Schaller
Release Date: 09/09/2014 
Label:  Profil   Catalog #: 14020  
Composer:  Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Gerd Schaller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonie Festiva
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Where does the “otherwise” come from? Just this: Schaller plays a different ending to the Adagio than we are used to–one that leaves the concluding measures more open-ended. Compare this to the more usual one (Jochum on EMI, for example). It’s a tiny point, but I wonder where it comes from. Doubtless there’s a new critical edition published somewhere for the express purpose of changing these two final bars. After all, everyone is smarter than Bruckner these days, and the situation with so-called “critical” editions is critical only in the medical sense. Too bad it’s not “terminal”.

Anyway, despite his occasional quixotic preference for half-baked Bruckner scholarship (viz. the Eighth), Schaller really is an excellent Bruckner
Read more conductor, and this live version of the Fifth, recorded in the sometimes too spacious acoustic of Ebrach Abbey, doesn’t put a foot wrong. Right from the start, with a nicely flowing tempo for the introduction promising an unusually coherent first movement, you can hear that this is going to be a thoughtful and idiomatic interpretation. So it proves. The Adagio, odd ending aside, moves at what seems like the perfect pace–it times out at 16 minutes but, more importantly, never stagnates, especially in the big, dark sequences toward the end.

The scherzo is fleet and full of rustic character, while the finale features a puckishly humorous clarinet at the start, a texturally transparent central double fugue, and one of the most intelligently voiced, unclogged final perorations on disc. The Philharmonia Festiva, a pick-up group, plays amazingly well, especially the brass, and if the acoustic obscures some of the detail that Schaller seems to be attempting, it certainly helps to give the climaxes that big, resonant sound that Bruckner surely had in mind.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 5 in B flat major, WAB 105 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Gerd Schaller
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonie Festiva
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1876; Vienna, Austria 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Too Much reverberation! October 9, 2014 By Gail M. (Goleta, CA) See All My Reviews "Gerd Schaller is an excellent conductor of Bruckner, and the musicians of the Philharmonie Festiva do a superb job of playing this long symphony in a live performance. Unfortunately their efforts are undone by poor sound on this recording. The venue of the performance introduces extreme reverberation, so that louder passages are blurred in a shrill fog of echoes. Fortunately this recording is not typical of the other performances in Schaller's Bruckner series. I had hoped for a fine recording of the Fifth Symphony, which is a wonderful score." Report Abuse
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