on 24 October 2005
If you like (as I do sometimes) to listen to Brucker to have your ears and brain overwhelmed by the brassy climaxes, then Chailly's cycle is unlikely to fly to the top of your list. What is most impressive/ distinctive to me about it is the balancing of the various elements of Bruckner's sound-picture, with woodwinds, for example, clearly audible in tuttis and other places where often they are masked by brass, and a very appealing strings/ brass balance in general (crucial in Bruckner). Horns are often atmospherically distant rather than 'front of podium' and this (as in Chailly's Mahler) gives an enjoyably different perspective on certain passages throughout. Rather than thinking about Wagner, or even Schubert, while listening through this, I found myself thinking about Sibelius a lot, and perhaps it is typical that Chailly, a specialist in 20th century music, should draw out some of the music's future as much as its debts to its time or the past. Most of this is no doubt down to Chailly's work with the two excellent orchestras involved here, although the warm and slightly recessed recording plays its part as well. Generally speaking, it sounds marvellous and interestingly detailed, tempi are generally fine (perhaps occasionally on the slow side), and there are only one or two quirks that might become irritating on repetition (very end of 1st movement of Symphony nr. 6, for example, has some peculiar micro-managing of dynamics). Version-wise nothing really odder than you might expect on any given set, except perhaps that the later revision of the first symphony is selected, and that the set includes (a nice performance of) Symphony nr. 0. I still have not found an overall traversal of these symphonies that projects quite the combination of line/direction, excitement, and string/brass integration as Karajan's, but the sound there, while acceptable, is not very up to date and there is much in Chailly's set you will not hear there (and if you do, it's probably because of the somewhat artificial fiddling with microphones and balances by the DG engineers at that time). Chailly is a bit less exciting, and there is not the same sense of inevitability running through the music, but his view is very beautiful and satisfying in its own terms -- well worth hearing, especially if you find Bruckner too aurally punishing in other versions you have sampled.
on 27 February 2008
I agree completely with Murray Low's excellent review regarding Chailly's interpretation of the Bruckner symphonies. I write only to add my impressions about the playing heard on these discs.
In my opinion, it gets no better than Chailly and the Concertgebouw for gorgeous, exquisite playing. Each section and each soloist, whether string or wind, plays with a beautiful glowing sound and immaculate technique. There are simply too many examples to list here. Also, the orchestra sounds perfectly comfortable playing at either dynamic extreme, and the balance is always such that you can hear inner voices and lines without any distracting musical tricks (like awkward forte-pianos on sustained notes). Perhaps the concert hall and recoding engineers should get credit for this as well.
However you might feel about Chailly's interpretation of Bruckner, this cycle (along with his Mahler cycle) demonstrate playing that is about as perfect as you'll ever hear. This always-gorgeous, never-harsh sound might very well be your valid criticism of Chailly's approach to this music. Maybe the music could use more edge or less refinement at times. But the wonderful thing about Bruckner is that someone will always find something new or different in his music, but playing this good is rarely, if ever, found.
on 4 December 2011
I have listened to this set over an extended period and it compares very well with other sets that I have Haitink, Barenboim, Jocum (DG) and Karajan in terms of interpretation, performance and recorded sound. There is plenty of detail and especially in the woodwind. In general the recordings are a technical triumph. One of the main benefits of Chailly is that his interpretations are always interesting and bear repeated listening without become tiring or being too predictable. Having attended live concerts of a number of his Bruckner symphonies in the Concertgebouw during his Amsterdam period, this set very much reminds me of those live performances. This is not to say that the other conductors listed above are not to be recommended, I have time for them all and enjoy their recordings as well. However if I had to take only one set to my "desert island" or only one set to live with, it would be Riccardo Chailly.
on 23 April 2012
This collection of all the symphonies of Bruckner is just about as good as it gets, at least in the hands of a single conductor. The orchestral sound does full justice to the composer's vision - cathedrals of sound describe it well - and while there may be minor quibbles about occasional details, the overall standard is very fine indeed.
on 13 August 2011
. Now to choose the ideal Bruckner complete symphonies is a dream that is beyond any conductor.I want a set that will not shatter my ears drum like Karajan,emitional,moody and loud similar to Jochum on EMI.I tried many times to listen to these set but physically I was drained and develop buzzing noise in mY left ears and put me off Bruckner symphonies.I bought Celibidache Symphonies 4-9,Wand,Tintner,Skrowaczewski,Chailly,Bosch,Inbal and other individual symphonies recommended by Amazon reviewers,Gramophone and BBC magazine.I could not to buy the complete symphonies by Blomstedst on sacd and it is overpriced on Amazon UK.Why buy all these set,simple searching for the ideal Bruckner complete symphonies but now realise there will be none and also I am addicted to his music,every single I nust listen 1 or 2 of his symphonies or will develop withdrawl symptoms.I am not an expert,can not even read music but only allow my ears to be the judge.Forget sacd,my choice for Bruckner complete symphonies are 1)Chailly for beautiful sound,not to emotional but get to the heart of the symphonies.It is beautifaul,2)Skrowaczewski beautiful sound but as good in coparison to Chailly 3)Inbal for some of the original version of Bruckner symphonies.If i had to chose one version of his complete symphonies then there is no doubt it will be Chailly version.I am listening to his 5th symphonies.....words can not convey what I am hearing.This set is underated expect by Amazon UK reviewers.This set is highly recommended and urge any newcomers to Bruckner symphonies to buy this set first and you will never regret for your invested.For every box set I will recieve a blast from Karajan trumplet BLAST that will sent to earspecialist to have my ears checked for buzzing noise.Tell me why I am wrong not just by voting or am I siting on my brain to talk such nonsense......