This is my own idea of how the Bruckner 7th should be done, but I ought to say at the outset that I am not a particular devotee of Bruckner. There is a kind of Wagner-meets-the-Pope feel about him, and that impression is particularly strong in the 7th. It is all very serious-minded and edifying, and I can honestly say that I enjoy Bruckner greatly by way of a change from the kinds of music I listen to more habitually. Tintner's 'take' on him is serene rather than bombastic, and that is my own personal reason for preferring this performance to more intense renderings that may appeal more to some committed Brucknerians. The essence of Bruckner, to me, is innocence and not Angst.
Tintner gives us his own view of the symphony in a liner-note that I found very interesting and rather touching too. Once again the keynote is earnest innocence. I learn, for instance, regarding the first movement that '...unexpectedly a third melody, very different from either the first or the second, appears like an austere rhythmic dance. With these three building blocks the composer gives us one of the loveliest first movements in all music'. Surely this is the right mindset for interpreting this composer, I thought to myself. I listened with placid contentment throughout as we crossed the wide symphonic meadows of the three main movements, and I put aside impious recollections of the gods entering Valhalla at the conclusion of each, hard though that sequence was to dispel from my mind each time. The slow movement in particular was to my liking taken at Tintner's comparatively flowing tempo, which I hope and believe manages to qualify as the composer's 'sehr langsam'.
The liner note is absolutely excellent, with short sections in English, German and French on the composer, the composition itself, the orchestra and the conductor. There is absolutely no reason why we should not be able to expect this on a budget label. In the course of his remarks on the symphony, Tintner naturally goes into the question of authenticity in the score, arguing in support of his adoption of the version by Robert Haas.
The recorded sound is admirable, and it is an especial personal pleasure to me to hear how the orchestra from which I first heard the classical repertory has developed to the standard it has. In my early days Karl Rankl probably tried to do too much, but he left a fine legacy to Sir Alec Gibson who basically completed the work. They are not quite the LSO or the Chicago Symphony or what I am learning to call the Berliner Philharmoniker just yet, but it may be that they will yet get there. On purely musical grounds, given my attitude to Bruckner, this might well be my first choice among versions of the 7th. At this price there are no two ways about it.
Tintner’s interpretation of Bruckner 7 uses the Haas edition. The conductor, who wrote the sleevenotes, claims it was Nikisch who persuaded the composer to add the cymbal, triangle, and timpani at the climax of the slow movement. So this is one of the few (the only?) recordings available that leaves them out. It works, but I would still prefer to have them in – and to me it is by no means clear what Bruckner’s opinion was on the subject. One thing I do agree with Tintner is that the finale is somewhat lightweight compared to all that has gone before; Tintner calls it Haydnesque.
The performance by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is superb. I had goosebumps from the opening bars. The sound is almost perfect with great breadth and depth. This CD therefore comes highly recommended, but I think it needs to be combined with an equally superb version that does include the percussive ejaculation at the height of the slow movement, such as Barenboim's.
on 5 April 2009
I confess that I found this a little slow to get going, and as a result a bit daunting but perseverance soon paid off, and I found myself taken away to images of distant lands, great valleys & misty mountains by this epic symphony.
Yes, there is a Wagner feel to it, but that's no problem is it??
The recording from 1997 is superb, as are the Naxos liner notes - very informative on Bruckner himself.
My favourite sections are the Andante & Scherzo - I would also highly recommend that you play this as loud as legally possible to get the full effect of it. There are some really bombastic themes that repeat themselves and lots of big, ahem, Wagnerian style climaxes, as well as subtlety and reflection.
As my first Bruckner, and I am told not his best, I am certainly inclined to check more out! Any comments on his other symphonies would be greatly welcomed :-)
Another Naxos gem!