BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 – Cincinnati Symphony/ Max Rudolf – HDTT

by | Nov 8, 2011 | Classical Reissue Reviews

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E Major (1883 version) – Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/ Max Rudolf – [avail. in various formats from] HDTT HDCD242, 55:20 ****:
Max Rudolf (1902-1995) barely receives the kind of accolades he deserves, especially given his huge commitment of time and energy, 1940-1983, to various American musical organizations like the Metropolitan Opera and the Curtis Institute of Music. His association with the Cincinnati Symphony and the Cincinnati May Festival endured 1958-1970. The present restoration of the Bruckner Symphony in E Major (rec. 1966 for Decca) derives from a sumptuous commercial 4-track open reel tape whose close miking of the Cincinnati woodwinds will gain many adherents.
The most immediate impression I glean from this performance of Bruckner’s most popular symphony must be its optimistic sobriety, its passionate devotion to a series of fixed points of emotional departure.  Each of the various Bruckner “periods” receives its due proportion, the various Wagner orchestral and thematic influences neither treated perfunctorily nor over indulged. Rudolf’s personal predilection for the trumpet savors the heavy role of that instrument in this work’s sonic structure, and the cleanliness of articulation, especially in the last movement, proves heroically resonant. Tempos are generally brisk, though the C-sharp Minor Adagio wrests many a tragic utterance in the course of its 17-minute evolution. The Cincinnati misterioso string tremolos, the absolutely volatile, syncopated hunting riffs in the third movement Scherzo in A Minor, and the silken peroration at the finale to the last movement provide a potent addition to a Bruckner catalogue too long remiss in having ignored Rudolf’s idiomatic account.
—Gary Lemco

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