5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Surprisingly good, well worth hearing,
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This review is from: Bruckner: Symphony No.8 (Audio CD)
I confess that I bought this Boulez performance of what many regard as Bruckner's greatest symphonic work largely out of curiosity. I've heard the work performed live on several occasions, and over a long span of time I've heard many of the readings committed to disc. After listening to Boulez, my first preferences remain the VPO/Karajan performance on DG and a (deleted) live recording from Lubeck Cathedral by Gunter Wand. Karajan's is probably the definitive performance on CD - and crucially he uses the Haas Edition of this work (as do Wand and Boulez). The Wand performance is however uniquely satisfying, contains perhaps a little more humanity than the Karajan, and has an especially beneficial cathedral acoustic and appropriate reverberation for Bruckner's brass chorales.
I was surprised, though, by how convincing the Boulez recording is. He has a reputation for being too cold and clinical, but I can't say that this rang true in the Bruckner 8th on this CD. If anything, although Boulez is particularly good at mapping out the symphonic arguments and providing a clear picture of the work's structure, there are times when at climactic points Boulez almost seems impulsive!
I found the recording very good indeed and it offers an unusual amount of inner orchestral detail without detracting from a good, warm overall "glow" to the orchestral sound. The playing of the Vienna Philharmonic is glorious - there is some brass playing in the long slow movement that is quite simply out of this world.