Wilhelm Furtwängler made only one commercial recording of Bruckner (the Adagio from Symphony VII with the Berlin Philharmonic for Telefunken), but numerous archival recordings and airchecks have survived, including three complete performances of Symphony VIII. Two performances, with the Berlin Philharmonic, date from after WWII. The present performance, with the Vienna Philharmonic, is for my money even better. It has the hallmarks of Furtwängler's interpretive approach - a long architectural view of the work incorporating nuanced tempo shifts and phrasing - but in this case with blazing dramatic intensity.
And now, thanks to this revelatory transfer from Musical Concepts, it sounds even better than either of the later Berlin performances. The present transfer has greater body and bloom than any transfer I have heard of this performance - the strings sound for once like the 1940s Vienna Philharmonic strings, the dynamics are often stunning, the loudest passages which sounded overloaded on EMI's and Deutsche Grammophon's various CD releases sound clean, and the noise level has been reined in without sucking out the distinctive acoustics of the Musikverein.
It should be added that Pristine Classics recently released their own restoration of the same performance, and while it is also a fine achievement it is disappointing in some ways: strings sound harsh in the upper area of the dynamic range, audience noises have been scrubbed, which takes something away from the "you are there" atmosphere of a live performance (only a couple of obtrusive coughs have been excised from the Musical Concepts restoration), and I will admit to a bias against the fake stereoization that Pristine incorporates into their transfers.
This CD is the best transfer available of an astounding concert. And the price can't be beat. If you're a Bruckner lover or Furtwängler fan, this release is indispensable.