It would be a misuse of language to refer to this event as an `interpretation', it is not even a `translation' (for translation involves interpretation). It might however be described as a `transliteration': from the language of music written to the language of music heard. In a life-time of listening I can recall no other rendering of any work that is so utterly selfless and self-giving (though Klemperer's great recording of Mahler's 9th might suggest itself).
Goodall throughout accepts the score at face-value - and what riches are in this score! The vision is astronomical, the timescale geological and the cumulative reach transcendent.
The effect will depend entirely on the listener's response to Bruckner's concept. For this listener the whole event is magisterial and magnificent. Of its type it is unique and we are privileged indeed to be allowed forty years on to share in Goodall's response to this glorious symphony.
These words of Hans Pfitzner seem appropriate:
`Hearing a genuinely inspired musical idea we can only cry out: `How beautiful that is!' Its quality can only be recognised not demonstrated. To anyone who does not join in no arguments are availing, and to his attacks there is no response except to play the melody and say: `How beautiful!' What it expresses is as deep and as clear, as mystical and as obvious as truth.'
I would like to add a postscript to what I wrote a few years ago.
Goodall was almost completely neglected by the recording industry - indeed, in a certain shameful sense, he was almost completely ignored by the music industry! However, he was a musician of almost embarrassing sensitivity and of unexcelled perception, committed and patience to a fault.
Perhaps no recording of Bruckner has produced such a sharp division of opinion. This recording has been subjected to the harshest criticism; most notably Richard Osborne (Gramophone review May, 2002) dismissed Goodall's Eighth with the comment that his reading is `clearly inadequate as a piece of symphonic conducting' and, so far as the ratings go, `Goodall is nowhere'.
Another, even more irascible, reviewer goes further in this patent stupidity, observing that Goodall's conducting of the Eighth is, `slow, dull, pedantic, amateurish, [an] interpretive approximation by a minimally competent local talent'. These responses are, to my mind, utterly incomprehensible.
It may be of some interest to note that while Solti could never comprehend Goodall's musicianship (listening to Solti is listening to the antithesis of Goodall), he was chosen to prepare many of Klemperer's finest late performances and recordings. Incidentally, the distinguished conductor Sir Mark Elder made these remarks a year or two ago: "I've fallen in love with Bruckner's Seventh Symphony. When I was in New York ... I stumbled across a recording of this symphony in a concert conducted by my old friend Reggie Goodall. I admired him beyond anybody else, and I feel the I have to carry his torch and impress upon my younger colleagues what a significant role he played in the musical life of this country. Hearing Reggie's interpretation, the music suddenly made sense to me for the first time'. Little wonder then that the New York Times noted, on the occasion of his death, that `Sir Reginald Goodall, [was] sometimes called the last link in a chain of legendary Wagnerian conductors stretching back to Wagner himself. As he reached the height of his fame in the 1970's, the response of British music critics and opera-goers to Sir Reginald's Wagner interpretations was just short of idolatrous'. Another reviewer gives what is perhaps the ultimate accolade, describing Goodall's `monumental approach' to the conclusion of the finale of the Eighth `as very powerful indeed, and worthy of the composer's great achievement'.
We will never hear his like again!