This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
After a radical and dramatic account of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony (Decca, 6/89) and a much more staid version of the Fourth (Decca, 10/91), Dohnanyi and his Cleveland players now give us a chaste, mannerly, finely thought through account of the lofty Apollonian Seventh.
The classicism of the reading may seem somewhat at odds with Dohnanyi's choice of Leopold Nowak's edition of the symphony. Nowak (albeit parenthetically) lards Bruckner's text with a mass of tempo indications that it is generally agreed are those of the conductor Nikisch rather than Bruckner's own. Several latter-day conductors have fallen foul of these spurious glosses, including the mighty Klemperer. Happily, Dohnanyi is more circumspect. A keen dramatic
sense is brought to bear on the music at nodal points; but this in no way undermines the broad integrity of the reading.
In style and temper the reading is closer to Blomstedt's classic and classical Dresden version on Denon than to the in many ways inimitable VPO version under Karajan on DG. The VP0 are born to Bruckner; the Cleveland players have been put to school in the subject. Happily, in Dohnanyi they have the best kind of teacher, scrupulous and knowing. In the Scherzo he is perhaps a shade too lenient, the orchestra, in holiday-mood and straining at the leash, sounding a touch brazen. But the Trio, beautifully paced, is wonderfully gemiitlich. And after that the tersest of Bruckner finales is superbly articulated, Dohnanyi skilfully reconciling the music's serenity and witty rodomontade. The coda is brilliantly judged.
In the end, whether or not you take to his performance will depend on whether you find the first two movements genuinely eloquent or too selfconsciously schooled. And here the recording may be a determining factor. Lucidly expounded but curiously veiled, the performance only really 'speaking' in big climaxes: that was my impression of the first two movements at a preliminary hearing. Later, I upped the volume a couple of notches. This produced huge climaxes, as electrifying as they were unneighbourly, but at the same time it lifted the clouds off the uplands and valleys of the score. It is a vivid illustration, I'm afraid, of the fundamental unsuitability of CD digital sound to the domestic situation. Still, played at a reasonably high level this strikes me as being a wonderfully intense and clear-sighted account of the score. At the climax of the slow movement (second session, high volume) I wondered whether I had put on the VP0 version in error. I hadn't.
-- Gramophone [10/1992]
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 7 in E major, WAB 107 by Anton Bruckner
Christoph von Dohnányi
Written: 1881-1883; Vienna, Austria
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