Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Symphony No. 7
Bernard Haitink, cond; Chicago SO
CSO RESOUND 901706 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 67:31) Live: Chicago May 10–12, 15/2007
This is, I think, Bernard Haitink’s third and finest recording of the Bruckner Seventh, a symphony that has been appearing on disc with
increasing frequency. In
31:3 I reviewed the Yannick Nézet-Séguin SACD on Atma, and observed that “while the music maintains motion, it never really gains momentum. For one thing, there’s very little tempo variety within or between the first two movements (by the way, Nézet-Séguin uses the Nowak edition, complete with cymbal crash and triangle). The remainder, though well organized, lacks the tension and detail of, for starters, Jochum/EMI.” Haitink, in contrast, although he is never a conductor to push and pull at a score, brings out those inner details with great finesse. From the very beginning, the performance promises to be patient, with careful dynamic shaping helping the music’s argument to unfold easily. It’s not a performance of sudden, high contrast though. In the Adagio, for example (including the disputed but effective cymbal crash), the orchestra glows, but doesn’t really burn; this is a matter of Haitink’s interpretation rather than the Chicago Symphony’s sound. Throughout this performance, the brass-playing is brilliant and the woodwinds are full of character, which goes without saying for this orchestra, but the strings also hold their own, which was not always the case in the Solti era. If you prefer a non-interventionist approach to Bruckner that, even so, illuminates the most telling details, this beautiful new performance will serve you well—especially if you want a surround-sound Seventh. The sonic perspective is from the middle distance, with everything in place but not as hyper-present as in some SACDs. There’s a bit of air around the orchestra, but the hall is not strongly reverberant.
An odd detail in the simple but attractive packaging: inside the front cover, there’s a little blurb about the cover art, an image called “Underpainting.” According to the note, “Like the layers of sound within this symphony, the visual composition overlays color to build perceptions of depth, volume, and form. Emotive cues radiate from beneath, emanating a subtle glow that infuses the color palette. Variations in saturation, tone, and hue evoke the contrast between defined and open space.” True enough, of the music, the performance, and the well-chosen abstract cover art. But nowhere can I find a credit for the artist.
FANFARE: James Reel
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 7 in E major, WAB 107 by Anton Bruckner
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1881-1883; Vienna, Austria
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