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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational performance recorded with a very wide range of dynamics,
This review is from: Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 Summer 2011 (Accentus Music: ACC10243) [Blu-ray] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)This concert continues the series of very successful recordings made by Paul Smaczny at the Lucerne Festival with the Festival orchestra conducted by Claudio Abbado. This latest recording of Bruckner's 5th Symphony has all the expected hallmarks of an Abbado interpretation and receives a prolonged and enthusiastic ovation at the end.
Unusually, one aspect of the recording needs to be discussed before further comment is made about the performance. Essentially I found the very opening with pianissimo plucked strings to be inaudible at my normal listening level so I increased the volume to a level where the introduction was audible in the usual way (about an astonishing 13 decibels) then started again. This time I could hear the opening well enough but was almost blown out of the room with the following full orchestral outburst! After much experimenting with levels I compromised with an increase of 4 decibels which is a significant amount. This resulted in a listening experience of great realism with a very wide dynamic range. However, many of the quieter passages remained very hard to hear while the louder passages were at the limits of domestic playback levels. This dynamic situation may be an important factor to consider for many purchasers.
Please see extra note below on this in reply to a conflicting comment on this matter from a fellow reviewer*
As regards the performance the first thing to note is that Abbado has chosen to present the Nowak edition of this work. The performance itself is one of considerable dynamic extremes and also one of great fluidity of expression. Although the individual movement timings are close to normal, (almost identical to Welser-Most for example), the overall impression is one of much greater forward movement than usual combined with great sensitivity to the passing moment. The particular skills of the carefully selected members of this orchestra with their combined soloist and chamber musician experiences are vital to this interpretation. It enables Abbado to make equivalent demands of his musicians which produce a quite different listening experience of this work and which reflect those musicians' accumulated soloist and chamber skills.
The whole performance communicates as more of an inspirational experience where the frequent and massive blocks of sound seem far more integrated than usual within the total texture. The symphony under Abbado on this occasion, appears to come over as more of a forward moving and fluid sonic organism of considerable sensitivity rather than the usual imposing architectural edifice. I would describe it as a performance of greatness.I personally liked it enormously as did the packed audience.
The recording is extremely faithful in preserving and communicating this with imaging of clarity and musical awareness typical of the producer, Paul Smaczny. The sound is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio and stereo.
In summary therefore, I would rate this very highly indeed as an interpretation and as orchestral playing. My one reservation would be the extreme width of the dynamic range which may make parts of this either inaudible or extremely loud depending on the chosen replay level. Otherwise this is yet another 5 star issue by Abbado and his fine orchestra which should give considerable satisfaction to purchasers where the wide dynamic levels can be accommodated.
*My personal observations as regards adverse response elsewhere to sound levels in this recording is as follows:
I listen to discs with powerful amps and wide ranging speakers. The reviewer who disagrees with my comments listens with headphones and did not notice the problem I commented about. I am not surprised as headphones eliminate room noise and bring all the sounds of a recording directly to the ears. They do not deliver surround sound either. All of these differing factors make a great deal of difference and I feel my original comments remain valid.
Finally, a note to the anonymous negative voter:
The voting system is specifically only about reviews being 'helpful' or 'unhelpful'
Goodness only knows what you find to be `unhelpful' about this review.
A negative vote without reason is not helpful to anyone. It does not contribute in any useful way to discussion so no-one can learn from you.
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Significantly, I know of at least one good reviewer who has finally given up with anonymous negative votes such as has been experienced here and deleted all his reviews. The loss to the whole collecting community is his considerable knowledgeable advice and the gain is his own free time. He cannot be persuaded to return to writing reviews despite my repeated encouragement.
Anonymous negative votes without supporting reasons can have other negative results that you may not have thought of.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost as good as hearing it live,
This review is from: Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 Summer 2011 (Accentus Music: ACC20243) [DVD]  (DVD)I was at one of the concerts in London in October 2011 at which these artists performed this symphony. It was an incredible musical experience. The sound this orchestra creates is magical and their response to Abbado is clearly a unique musical partnership. Bruckner's Fifth has previously seemed to me a bit below the 4th, 7th, 8th and 9th in stature. This performance changed my view making this symphony more "organic" and less bombastic than the later symphonies can sound. The LFO is not about power (although the brass can turn it on when required) and the breathtaking parts are often the exquisite interplay of soloists or sections - this comes out well in the DVD.
Watching a DVD on screen can never match the live concert hall experience but this DVD is a fair alternative way of hearing these world class musicians make a cogent case for this symphony to be Bruckner's greatest.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great performance, but...,
This review is from: Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 Summer 2011 (Accentus Music: ACC10243) [Blu-ray] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)Bruckner's Fifth Symphony is a difficult piece to bring off: episodic and at times almost disjointed and lacking the inner drive and structural cohesiveness of its siblings. It seems that the composer, after the glorious Fourth, was trying out both new and traditional venues (an abundance of counterpoint) and exploring formal innovations which not always quite jell. As a whole, the symphony needs a firm grip on its development and, moreover, a stress on some of its proto-modern features in rhythm and harmony, in brief: sharp contours to the many outbursts and a loving hand with the lyrical passages. For me, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski's 1996 CD recording with the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra delivers all this, and more. On DVD, Günter Wand (in dated video and audio) is fine, Franz Welser-Möst with the great Clevelanders more incisive, though sometimes hampered by the reverberant acoustic of St. Florian.
Abbado's recording has received much praise from my esteemed co-reviewers and elsewhere, and I gladly agree that his is a very special reading, full of warmth and sensitivity to the composer's mood swings. I do not quite concur with Ian Giles regarding the problems with the recording's dynamic range he experienced: I listened (with headphones) to both soundtracks and, yes, the dynamic range is wide and some piano passages are low in volume indeed, but all in all the dynamics are not out of line for me. The video is very good, so is the audio, up to today's very best standards (see C Major!). As to the interpretation, I don't find the Lucerne Festival Orchestra ideally suited to Bruckner's idiom and his sonorities. At times I sensed some tentativeness in ensemble or intonation, too subtle to pinpoint exactly. Perhaps this is due to Abbado's rather genteel approach to the score which is not quite apparent in the powerful first movement and the beautifully melodic adagio, but in the scherzo where I would wish for a more ferocious delivery (and, as the composer wants, no slowing down in the trio) and in the finale which is not quite overwhelming or, if you like, apocalyptic enough for my taste. All this is admittedly a very subjective response to what must be considered a great performance overall. You may disagree with my quibbles and I'll be happy to hear from you.
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Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 Summer 2011 (Accentus Music: ACC20243) [DVD]  by Lucerne Festival Orchestra (DVD - 2012)