ANTON BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (Haas version) – Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Bernard Haitink – RCO Live

by | Oct 11, 2005 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

ANTON BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (Haas version) –
Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/Bernard Haitink – RCO Live Multichannel
SACD RCO 05003, (2 discs) 85:45 ****:

Recorded in glorious 5.0 channel surround last year during live
performance at the Concertgebouw, this is another hi-res release
following the lead of such orchestras as the London Symphony and San
Francisco Symphony in releasing a series of recordings on their own
private SACD label. There are almost as many Bruckner specialists as
Mahler specialists and collectors have their own favorites.  Mine
is Günter Wand, but Haitink is responsible for one of the very best
boxed sets of all the Bruckners (on Philips) – also recorded with the
Concertgebouw but some years ago.

I did a comparison of the CD layers first, the Wand recording on RCA
being only standard CD. (Also 2 discs, also the Haas Edition, and also
recorded live – in l993.) I was surprised to find the Wand far superior
sonically, the RCO CD option sounding very thin and constricted. The
sonics of the Wand recording, made in the Hamburg Music Hall, are so
rich and powerful that they provide a close sonic match to even the
SACD layer of the RCO discs, when bringing up Pro Logic II processing
to create a surround effect. Although the new Haitink discing brings
the orchestra closer and with more presence, the Wand set casts a
tremendous ambient feeling of the space of the music hall with a
superwide U-shaped soundstage. There is more reverb, although it does
not seem to obscure the details in the score, and Wand adopts a more
emotional response to the spiritual dimensions of Bruckner’s massive
structure. This was the composer’s favorite of all his symphonies, and
The Concertgebouw Orchestra premiered it for the Netherlands in l920,
so the orchestra has had a long history with the titanic work. The new
SACD release would probably appeal more to those looking for a drier
and more precise interpretation, and the surround sonics do place the
listener in that highly-prized venue’s enveloping acoustics.

– John Sunier

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