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Bruckner: The Symphonies [Box set]

Orchestre Royal du Concertgebouw Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Audio CD (13 Jun 2005)
  • SPARS Code: ADD
  • Number of Discs: 9
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B0009A41VU
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 453,229 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         


Disc 1:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Bruckner: Symphony No.0 in D minor - Original version - 1. Allegro - Poco meno mossoRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra14:29£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Bruckner: Symphony No.0 in D minor - Original version - 2. Andante sostenutoRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra12:55£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Bruckner: Symphony No.0 in D minor - Original version - 3. Scherzo (Presto) - Trio (Langsamer und ruhiger)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra 6:34£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Bruckner: Symphony No.0 in D minor - Original version - 4. Finale (Moderato: Andante - Allegro vivace)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra 9:47£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Bruckner: Symphony No.1 in C minor - "Linz Version" 1866 - 1. Allegro molto moderatoRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra12:03£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Bruckner: Symphony No.1 in C minor - "Linz Version" 1866 - 2. AdagioRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra13:03£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Bruckner: Symphony No.1 in C minor - "Linz Version" 1866 - 3. Scherzo. LebhaftRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra 8:51£0.79  Buy MP3 


Disc 2:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Bruckner: Symphony No.1 in C minor - "Linz Version" 1866 - 4. Finale. Bewegt und feurigRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra12:39£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Bruckner: Symphony No.2 in C minor - 1. Ziemlich schnellRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra17:43£2.29  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Bruckner: Symphony No.2 in C minor - 2. Adagio. Feierlich, etwas bewegtRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra15:15£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Bruckner: Symphony No.2 in C minor - 3. Scherzo. SchnellRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra 8:13£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Bruckner: Symphony No.2 in C minor - 4. Finale. Mehr schnell - Sehr schnellRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra17:21£2.29  Buy MP3 


Disc 3:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Bruckner: Symphony No.3 in D minor - Version 1877 - 1. Gemässigt, mehr bewegt, MisteriosoRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra19:22£2.59  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Bruckner: Symphony No.3 in D minor - Version 1877 - 2. Adagio, bewegt, quasi AndanteRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra14:44£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Bruckner: Symphony No.3 in D minor - Version 1877 - 3. Scherzo (Ziemlich schnell)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra 6:58£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Bruckner: Symphony No.3 in D minor - Version 1877 - 4. Finale (Allegro)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra15:35£1.89  Buy MP3 


Disc 4:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Bruckner: Symphony No.4 in E flat major - "Romantic" - Version 1878/1880 - 1. Bewegt, nicht zu schnellConcertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam18:14£2.29  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Bruckner: Symphony No.4 in E flat major - "Romantic" - Version 1878/1880 - 2. Andante quasi allegrettoConcertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam15:52£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Bruckner: Symphony No.4 in E flat major - "Romantic" - Version 1878/1880 - 3. Scherzo (Bewegt) - Trio (Nicht zu schnell. Keinesfalls schleppend)Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam 9:45£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Bruckner: Symphony No.4 in E flat major - "Romantic" - Version 1878/1880 - 4. Finale (Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell)Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam19:35£2.59  Buy MP3 


Disc 5:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Bruckner: Symphony No.5 in B flat major - 1. Introduction (Adagio) - Allegro (Mäßig)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra18:53£2.29  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Bruckner: Symphony No.5 in B flat major - 2. Adagio (Sehr langsam)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra18:33£2.29  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Bruckner: Symphony No.5 in B flat major - 3. Scherzo (Molto vivace, schnell) - Trio. Im gleichenTempoRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra12:20£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Bruckner: Symphony No.5 in B flat major - 4. Finale (Adagio - Allegro moderato)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra22:50£2.99  Buy MP3 


Disc 6:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Bruckner: Symphony No.6 in A major - Original version - 1. MaestosoRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra15:17£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Bruckner: Symphony No.6 in A major - Original version - 2. Adagio (Sehr feierlich)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra17:19£2.29  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Bruckner: Symphony No.6 in A major - Original version - 3. Scherzo (Nicht schnell) - Trio (Langsam)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra 7:51£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Bruckner: Symphony No.6 in A major - Original version - 4. Finale (Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra13:27£1.89  Buy MP3 


Disc 7:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Bruckner: Symphony No.7 in E major - 1. Allegro moderatoRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra18:05£2.29  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Bruckner: Symphony No.7 in E major - 2. Adagio (Sehr feierlich und sehr langsam)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra21:00£2.59  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Bruckner: Symphony No.7 in E major - 3. Scherzo (Sehr schnell)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra 9:22£0.79  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Bruckner: Symphony No.7 in E major - 4. Finale (Bewegt, doch nicht schnell)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra11:49£1.49  Buy MP3 


Disc 8:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Bruckner: Symphony No.8 in C minor - Ed. Haas - 1. Allegro moderatoRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra13:58£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Bruckner: Symphony No.8 in C minor - Ed. Haas - 2. Scherzo: Allegro moderatoRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra13:20£1.89  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Bruckner: Symphony No.8 in C minor - Ed. Haas - 3. Adagio: Feierlich langsam; doch nicht schleppendRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra25:19£3.39  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Bruckner: Symphony No.8 in C minor - Ed. Haas - 4. Finale: Feierlich, nicht schnellRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra20:27£2.59  Buy MP3 


Disc 9:

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Bruckner: Symphony No.9 in D minor - 1. Feierlich. MisteriosoRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra23:15£2.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Bruckner: Symphony No.9 in D minor - 2. Scherzo (Bewegt lebhaft) - Trio (Schnell) - Scherzo da capoRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra11:15£1.49  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Bruckner: Symphony No.9 in D minor - 3. Adagio (Langsam, feierlich)Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra24:52£2.99  Buy MP3 


Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Colin Fortune VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
Fine as many of these performances are, this set is quite simply too expensive at the present time, which is why I have only given it 4 stars. Many of the recordings are 40 or more years old and the recording quality from the Amsterdam Concertgebouw is variable, the "Decca" reprints not being substantially better than the original Philips discs. Considering the competition from the excellent Barenboim/Berlin Philharmonic set on Warner Bruckner: The Nine Symphonies; Helgoland [Box Set] cost just over a third of the price of this set, now seems to be the time to release it a super budget price. Surely the record company could well afford this.

Haitink's Concertgebouworkest set fills a historical niche: Bruckner played by a lighter-sounding (almost more "French") orchestra than the sort of Wagnerian gravitas offered by the Karajan Bruckner: 9 Symphonies and this has also just been reissued at a much cheaper price. Both Haitink and the Concertgebouworkest sound young and bright-eyed. There is a clear headedness to the fairly speedy approach to the music which is very special and works particularly well in the early symphonies. That said I feel, however, that some people might find that this approach speaks to the head rather than the heart, for it comes from a period that was rejecting the tempo changes and perceived fulsomness of interpreters like Jochum whose DGG set
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5.0 out of 5 stars Without doubt the best rendition of Bruckner 4 Mar 2014
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
There is no conductor / orchestra combination that comes close on how Haitink & the Concertgebouw Orchestra handle the Bruckner Symphonies. Legendary package and a must have for any fan.

Good price, good shipping, good service
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11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best Bruckner box out there. 18 Jan 2007
By Philoctetes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
The Haitink Concertgebouw cycle is probably the most satisfying boxset there is, with some performances that remain in pole position.

Haitink is way ahead when it comes to the early and middle symphonies. Nos 0-6 are done superbly - just listen to the natural intensity of the Concertgebouw's performance in Nos 0-2, symphonies often shortchanged by other teams. The 4th and 5th are thrilling readings, the 6th yielding nothing to overhyped alternatives. No.7 is fine but the Dutchman's later recording is better. No.8 is the runt (again, later versions are better) so you'll require a supplement there. No.9 marries impulsion with a powerful magnanimity.

Karajan is better for Nos 7-9 but the other symphonies can sound overly aggressive. Mix and match for the best results, but if you want all the symphonies under one baton then Haitink alone has mastered the lot. Steer clear of the super budget price sets (too hit and miss).

Update: It's true, Haitink does rather flash-fry the Symphony No.8, outpacing most of the competition, but such a reading was par for the course back then, conductors like Van Beinum, Bohm, Horenstein and Jochum, or Barbirolli, were all likely to put the symphony into top gear and keep it going. Even if it isn't a fave it has a kind of integrity to it which arguably the 1981 lugubrious remake does not. As an alternative suggest Bruckner - Symphony No 8; Mozart - Symphony No 38
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unbelieveable recordings of the complete Bruckner Symphonies 10 April 2006
By Daniel L. Ayala - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Upon buying this set, I was struck by the recording engineering of this cycle. I thought I was listening to digital recordings, and was FLOORED when i discovered that these symphonies were recorded from 1960-1972. The sound is so crystal clear and so evenly recorded across all sections of the orcherstra that I contend over and over it was as if you was listening to a modern Chailly, Harnoncourt, or Barenboim recording. Just on sound alone - i would put this above and beyond Jochums EMI cycle with the Dresden Staatskapelle.

The second item that struck me with this set was Haitink himself. I had no idea or dreamt that he could tackle a complete cycle of symphonies and produce holistically, a quality product. So many "boxed sets" or "cycles" are marred by good ones and bad ones. But these recordings are even over the 12 year span they were done. This is a true testament to a maestro and beautiful and disciplined Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

The third thing I think about is in interpretation. Tempos that vary as the music builds - you'll never hear a more uptempo closing to the 8th in your life. I was shocked by an almost attempt by Haitink interpretively to throw back to the days of older conductors - styles of Furtwangler, Van Beinum, Knapperstbusch, ect. It sounded like he was paying homage to conductors of old but with updated sound.

Lastly - the orchestral playing is very detailed, disciplined. Strings playing sweet, woodwinds sounding light, brass very strong (though a few wrong notes and muddy in recordings 7-9 in big climaxes - but nothing too severe), and the ability to actually hear timpani in every symphony - something quite important to move the music along during up tempo passages or to accent the power of the brass sections - often not brought out in older recordings.

Something interesting that I would implore everyone to take note of... I now have 2 recordings of the 9th with Haitink - this early 1960 which is in the set and a 1981 digital recording with the same orchestra. Of the 14 other recordings I have of the 9th by Barenboim, Bernstien (1969 and 1990), Celibidache, Chailly, Giulini, Jochum, Karajan (1966 and 1975), Lopez-Cobos, Skrowaczewski, Tinter, Walter, and Wand - only the 2 Haitink recordings do not have the timpani player playing a role at the climax/finale of the 9th Symphony 1st movement, while instead playing a syncopated quarter/eight note rhythem (assuming thats the notation since I dont have access to a score). I find this fascinating and wondered why this was.

At any rate - happy listening!!!! This is a wonderful set - highly recommended above Jochum and dare I say an import Karajan which I have.
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shipshape, predictable and reliable 15 May 2006
By Larry VanDeSande - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This box of Bruckner symphonies, recorded from 1960-72 in Holland, was rereleased in 2005 with many outlets offering it at vastly reduced cost from the $72 list price. These were recorded during Haitink's halcyon days as director of the Concertgebouw Orchestra, when, in my opinion, he did his best and most reliable work in the recording studio. These performances include Bruckner's "Nulte" symphony, the so-called Symphony No. 0, and the traditional nine symphonies in varying arrangements. Haitink plays the original versions of Symphonies 0-4 and the first version of the titanic Symphony No. 8.

What I like about these performances is Haitink's unaffected way with the music and how it allows you to hear Bruckner's progression as a symphonist when you listen to them in their numeric order. As he showed in his set of Shostakovich symphonies recorded a decade after these, Haitink can be a reliable guide through any composer's music. He shows himself a very reliable guide here. What he also shows himself to be in this set is somewhat unimaginative and hidebound by his literalism.

For this reason, these performances, good as they are, will probably never be any Bruckner fans' No. 1 rated performance in any of the symphonies. Conductors that made names for themselves in this music usually did so because of the unique way they communicated the music -- Furtwangler was very idiosyncratic, unique and exciting; Karajan was highly charged and Germanic; Wand was very spiritual; Jochum dabbled with tempo and mysticism; Tintner used new performing scores; Solti was too virtuosic and forced the music to become something it wasn't.

How does Hatink fits into this universe of expert Bruckner interpreters? I don't think he does. I think he plays the music straight all the time. For that reason it always sounds honest and forthright and the wonderful ADD recordings allow you to hear every mellifluous sound from the august Concertgebouw. But there is a decided lack of individuality in these recordings. This was a trademark of Haitink's recordings with this orchestra during this period, when he made his name worldwide.

The 1960s were indeed a time for orchetral literalists to shine. Coming off the era of orchestral dabblers like Stokowski and Furtwangler, world opinion in the 1960s was divided into two camps of classical music performance -- literalism, headed by the likes of Reiner, Szell, Karajan and Haitink; and humanism, whose principal spokesperson was Bruno Walter who died in early 1962 and left behind a spate of wonderful-sounding records that have since been converted to CD in the digital era.

While there was still a lot of nostalgia for old times, it was clear literalism was leading the world stage in the 1960s and setting the standard for performance of classical music -- very much like period performance practice has swept into style today.

This is the ethos Haitink represents and that representation is never more evenly displayed than in this set of Bruckner symphonies. While they are uniformly well-played, sound uniformly wonderful, and are uniformly well-directed by the conductor, you can also say they are uniformly risk free and uniformly without the stamp of personality. Is that a bad thing? No, it simply puts this set at a disadvantage against the bigger names whose Bruckner sets are still in print.

I think of this set as being the ultimate backup to my favorite Bruckner recordings (see my Listmania list). In a baseball metaphor, I think of the Haitink recordings as the perfect backup to my starters, the perfect relief pitcher when my starter tires, and the perfect pinch hitter when I tire of hearing my favorite versions. I know Haitink will come in during this backup situation and deliver the goods for me. But I also know that, even given the wonderful truthful recocrdings and uniform approach, he'll never be good enough to be the starter, either.

One note: in my box, the disk labeled Symphony 4 actually contained someone's rap music. I know this wasn't Bruckner since he died almost a century before the invention of rap!
36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HAITINK'S EARLY BRUCKNER CYCLE 27 Jun 2006
By Mark E. Farrington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Jean Giraudoux once said that "Only the mediocre are always at their best." And it should go without saying that this applies even to great conductors, when they record complete cycles of works. So it is no discredit to Sir Bernard Haitink to say that he does better with some Bruckner symphonies than others. Still, a newcomer to Bruckner could hardly go wrong with any of these performances, except maybe the 8th (more on that later). They are all FRESH - even the least successful of them. This is because Haitink & Philips wisely chose not to plow through the whole cycle within a year or so: they took their time - 9 years, in fact (1963-72).

The "0" Symphony (June 1966) receives a truly sympathetic performance and recording. The Concertgebouw woodwinds make feast of the more plaintively bittersweet passages in the 2nd movement. And Haitink wisely plays the very opening "straight ahead," not trying to make the "nebulae" motifs as doom-laden or dramatic a Brucknerian "fingerprint" as they would become in the later symphonies. Still, everything comes off - in a work that often "goes for nothing." (Bruckner's VERY first Symphony, the F Minor "00", another work which often "goes for nothing", is not included in this box. Still, any true Brucknerian should have it, and the 1992 Inbal/Teldec does nicely.)

The 1st (May 1972), actually the last to be recorded, is rather aggressive (i.e., in a good way), brimming with daring and "intestinal fortitude". This is hardly the unimaginative performance of which Haitink has too often been accused. (In fact, Haitink's recent peformances show a Second Spring on his part : they have an energy and daring which he sometimes lacked at the outset of his career - i.e., in the 1960s, when he was thrust into the "shoes" of Eduard van Beinum at a tender age.) In any case, the Bruckner 1st featured here is, thankfully, the 1866 "Linz" version. To this writer's ears, it is the only "contemporary" competition to Jochum's 1965 DG Berlin account which, while a bit less incisive in execution, goes deeper into this work's inner content - such that it sounds even more "mature" than perhaps it is.

The May 1969 2nd (Haas edition) may be the greatest performance in the box, and perhaps the best 2nd ever recorded. In THE ESSENCE OF BRUCKNER, Robert Simpson points out the deleted 1872 passages which Haas restored to Bruckner's 1877 revision; he approves of all but one, in the second movment: the "repeat" of a solo-horn-and-woodwind passage, ending with a lone, climbing bassoon line. This performance is absolutely complete, but you would find it not a moment too long. Haitink and the Concertgebouworkest bring out such a subtle, "tangy" sheen in the strings, project such a purity of spirit, that they all seem to be possessed by the ghost of Eduard van Beinum (who never recorded a Bruckner 2nd). In spite of characteristic "fingerpints" in the "00" and "0", and the boldness of the 1st, it was only in the 2nd that Bruckner really began to evolve his own kind of symphonic structure. One could even speculate that this stretch of symphonic territory, initially staked out by Schubert in his UNFINISHED & GREAT, had been abandoned until Bruckner reached this point. (Incidentally, 1877 was also when Brahms at last achieved the definitive form of his SYMPHONY NO. 1.)

The October 1963 3rd (1878 edition) is actually the earliest recording in this box. (The 8th is from September 1969, not 1960, as an uncorrected typo would have it. ) Now, yours truly confesses a greater preference for the craggier, less "symmetrical" 1873 edition of the 3rd. (The 1982 Inbal/Teldec is superb, and so is the 2004 Nugano/Harmonia Mundi. Between them, the Nugano is a bit better played and recorded, but Inbal's grasp of pacing and structure is slightly more convincing: take your pick.) Still, if you must have the better-known 1878 edition, this performance is the one to have. It is far more fleet and unassuming than Haitink's rather lugubrious 1988 remake with the Vienna Philharmonic.

The 4th (May 1965) is one of the best in stereo - but one cannot help comparing it with the live 1956 van Beinum 4th (also with the Concertgebouwokest). Somehow, EvB struck an even more convincing balance between grandeur and humility...As did Jochum in his 1955 Bavarian Radio 4th (only available through amazon's German site). Still, as an introduction to the 4th, you could do a lot worse.

The 5th (December 1971), while faultlessly played, may be a bit too "serenely objective". This impression was confirmed by tumbling onto EvB's live 1959 5th (his last known recording, by the way) and Jochum's 1964 5th - both with the Concertgebouworkest. Unfortunately, Jochum was convinced that the 5th's Finale required extra brass (a tradition dating back to Franz Schalk). This writer is unfamiliar with Jochum's 1938 Hamburg and live 1986 Concertgebouw Fifths, but his '64 and his 1980 Dresden Staatskapell performances are marred by out-of-tune playing from some of those "extras." (Whether or not van Beinum used extra brass in the Finale, his version exudes all the "intestinal fortitude" necessary - AND beautifully in tune.) Still, in all fairness to Jochum, he had a uniquely exciting way with the 5th, which he believed to be Bruckner's greatest symphony. If you must have Jochum's 5th, go with his 1958 DG Bavarian Radio version (in Jochum's DG box; see my review), where the brass exhibit both beautifully rounded tone and good pitch.

With its many potentially awkward transition points and "gear shifts" (at least in the outer movements), the 6th may be the toughest of Bruckner's nuts to crack. Rarely will you find a great conductor and a great orchestra (in the same hall at the same time - that's the catch) who UNDERSTAND this work. What we usually get is a 6th, played and conducted in light of the 4th, 5th, 7th or 8th and "Here's this odd thing of Bruckner's and let's a GO at it shall we." The Haitink 6th (December 1970) was, at first, this writer's favorite. (Jochum's 1966 DG Bavarian Radio 6th was runner-up; too bad that EvB and the Concertgebouworkest never got around to it, together !). Now, Haitink and the Concertgebouworkest inscribe an almost supernaturally adept 6th - even if parts of the Adagio and the Finale are a little brisk. Still, it all "works", and then some. But if you can find it, the 1970 Steinberg/Boston account grasps the 6th's "DNA" better than any other...What had seemed "quirky" and inconsequential becomes not only logical, but enchanting: an alpine village progression from late summer to Christmas Festival, if you like.

(At the risk of a well-aimed bolt of lightning, yours truly finds Klemperer's fabled 1964 6th a tad overrated. Yes, it's excellent, but the Philharmonia, for all their collective genius, were NOT a Bruckner orchestra - compared to the Concertgebouw, the Berlin, the Bavarian Radio, or even Inbal's North German Radio. They just weren't. And although, in some quarters, it is reactionarily fashionable to dump on Jochum's Bruckner, his 1966 DG Bavarian Radio 6th is more idiomatic.)

The 7th (November 1966) is up against formidable competition. In terms of hi-fi alone, this includes van Beinum's 1947 and 1953 Deccas (and yes, they are both "hi-fi"), and several by Jochum. This writer's personal favorites: the 1947 EvB (in Dutton's transfer, which captures and enhances the original sound AND eliminates the infamous early Decca "ground hum" far better than the Tahra edition), and Jochum's surprisingly hi-fi 1952 Berlin 7th (on Tahra, if you can find it) as well as his 1964 Berlin stereo remake. Jochum's recently re-issued 1939 Vienna 7th (on Hanssler) has perhaps his most "trauerisch" second movement, but the Viennese turn in one of their sloppier performances; and the vague, rather undifferentiated articulation detracts from the momentum of the scherzo and the finale. Haitink's 1966 7th is indeed a convincing, beautifully rounded account, and one would not go wrong with it. Still, one can do better.

The 8th (September 1969, not 1960) is the weak link in this "chain". Compared with Haitink's own later version of 1981 and van Beinum's 1955, and next to Jochum's 1949 Hamburg or Karajan's early stereo 1957 (to name a few), it simply doesn't deliver the INNER drama and spirituality that a Bruckner 8th must-have-or-what's-the-point. While it is certainly PLAYED well enough, it is fairly clear that, in 1969, Haitink had yet to grasp the "measure" of this work. (In time, he did - let it be said !) The 8th was yours truly's "first" Bruckner symphony (Karajan '57); he would not recommend this 1969 8th as anyone's "first". It may not be "off-putting," but unless the Gentle Listener already KNEW the 8th, its core would be missed.

The 9th (December 1965) is a beautiful rendition - perhaps TOO beautiful to some...The "argument" is presented with such seamless logic that, if you expect something more consciously subjective, then at times this work's sense of crisis may seem to take a back seat to the beauty and sheen of the Concertgebouworkest. But here, the beauty and the crisis actually nourish each other; the inherent terror and exposed nerve endings ARE there - and all the more effective for not being "italicized in bold 'caps'". This is really apparent in the Scherzo, where Haitink's tempi - slower than with Jochum and others - allow those unsettling harmonies to sink in all the more spookily.

Still, nine years earlier the Concertgebouworkest, with Eduard van Beinum at the helm, had inscribed an even greater Bruckner 9th - replete with most of the qualities noted above (the Scherzo is even more deceptively lighter on its feet than with Haitink in 1965), but with greater depth AND a darker string sound. This is partly due to the greater number of violas which - rightly or wrongly - were eliminated during the Haitink years. (EvB's earlier live 9th - recorded on January 16, 1941, during the first, harsh winter of Holland's Nazi Occupation - is even more intense. Through the admittedly limited sonics, its more Mahlerian/Mengelbergian approach bathes this work in a harrowing, but instructive light.)

So there you have it. You WILL need another 8th, but there are several hi-fi choices for that: van Beinum's 1955; Haitink's 1981; Jochum's 1949; Karajan's 1957 or 1989. Still, this box grants us nearly perfect performances of "0", 1, 2 and 3 (1878 edition) and 9; and can't-miss versions of 4 through 7.

To end on a personal note : this was my first Bruckner cycle (in its earlier black-box incarnation), and the date was October 11, 1996. Only while writing the check for it, did I remember that this day was the centennial of Bruckner's death. It was a happy omen.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Bruckner Set 25 Mar 2006
By M. Kelly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Haitink has long been a renowned interpreter of Bruckner, and the Concertgebouw with which he has long been associated, and who can also lay claim to a rich Bruckner tradition dating back to Mengelberg, are in possession of arguably the ideal 'Bruckner sound'. This cycle was one of Haitink's first major projects with the Concertgebouw, and in many ways it shares a common approach with the Bruckner of Van Beinum.

In any case, the principal virtues of these recordings, apart from the fabulous orchestral playing, are Haitink's own virtues: patience, structural sense, and honest musicianship. Apart from Tintner very few could lay claim to such virtues, in addition to Haitink's command of the orchestra in all its facets. And of course, this approach is perfect for Bruckner.

All in all -- I would have to recommend this as probably the best overall cycle, and one which will reward a lifetime's listening.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid, even Bruckner cycle 16 May 2008
By J. Grant - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
I was rather late in dicovering Bruckner (better late than never), and this happened to be the cycle I chose to get. The reason I picked this one had nothing to do with reading reviews or hearing clips from it. I chose it solely because I was a member of BMG at the time, and this is what they had to offer (for around $30 including shipping). If I had it to do over again, I would either pick Tintner's or this one - or most likely I would just buy individual discs. Although this is a very solid, well played cycle (especially 0 - 3), some of the later symphonies, though perfectly acceptable, lack the power, drama and excitement of Furtwangler, Bohm, Walter, Schuricht or Knappertsbusch. However, if it is a complete cycle you are looking for, I have nothing disparraging to say about this one, which I prefer over either of Jochum's for the eveness of quality throughout the entire cycle.Some of my favorite individual symphonies are:
No.3 - Celibidache, Bohm, Knappertsbusch
No.4 - Walter, Bohm, Furtwangler
No.5 - Schuricht, Furtwangler, Thielemann
No.6 - Klemperer, Stein, Celibidache
No.7 - Bohm, Furtwangler, Karajan (EMI), Knappertsbusch (1949)
No.8 - Furtwangler, Bohm, Schuricht
No.9 - Walter, Furtwangler, Wand
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