BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 – Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Bernard Haitink, conductor – CSO RESOUND

by | Jan 14, 2008 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 – Chicago Symphony Orchestra – Bernard Haitink, conductor – CSO RESOUND Multichannel SACD – CSCR 901 706, 68 mins. ***** [Distr. by Harmonia mundi]:

Having just reviewed Bruckner’s Seventh on an excellent live recording disc from Canadian label Atma Classiques, I don’t know why I’d agree to take on another live recording disc of the identical program in such a short period of time. I’ve always had a weakness for the Bruckner 7, and I’ve always had a weakness for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (I’m a big-time, old-school Fritz Reiner freak!). I guess I was really quite interested to know how the CSO was doing in their bid for the direct-to-live recording market – and the fact that the performance was conducted by Bernard Haitink, another big-time Brucknerian, just sweetened the pot. I’m all in!

Well, no worries, mates – this disc comes chock full of all the trademark CSO flourishes (and Bruckner prerequisites), including spectacular massed brasses, incredibly sweet strings and thunderous percussion. The Seventh was Bruckner’s crowning achievement, brought him his first real fame and respect as a composer, and opened the gateway for a complete re-evaluation of himself as a musician in the pantheon of great Germanic composers. This music is so very regal and atmospheric, I always feel like a better person after listening. I have a few silly quirks about specific passages in orchestral performances making or breaking the recording, and in this case, it comes near the conclusion of the long, second movement Adagio. As all the orchestral forces gather for a massive crescendo, that crescendo should be crowned with a massive cymbal crash, and that, in my book, is requisite for a legitimate Bruckner 7. That crescendo is beyond spectacular here, and should please legions of Brucknerians worldwide. This recording is outstanding in every possible respect. Very highly recommended!

– Tom Gibbs

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