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Bruckner as Mundanity
on 19 April 2013
Really, this performance, Bruckner-wise, is shallower than the Aral Sea. For all the surface beauty & rhetoric, any metaphysical connection with Bruckner is spasmodic at best. Karajan, it is reported, would take a week to recover from a performance of the Sibelius Fourth. On the evidence at hand, come the coda of the final movement, Sir Simon jauntily booked himself in for the another sexy man-perm.
The Romantic Symphony is a deeply numinous if not terrifying work - terrifying in the same sense as Sibelius looking out at the Great Forest from his dwelling in Ainola and knowing in his bones that Otherness - perhaps Tapio himself - is resident. It's where the Wild Things really are. Take, for instance, the great chorale in the middle of the first movement; with the likes of Karajan (DG), one is immolated like the Burning Bush. Sir Simon, on the other hand, evokes a fine orchestral response and not much else. The opening horncall is prosaic and the slow movement has the mystique of a hamburger joint.
The real test is this: where's the hunger for Rattle's Eighth? Mmmmmh: the rest is silence.
And if you want a real laugh, watch the promotional video that EMI released in conjunction with the CD. It is on YouTube. Poor old Sir Simon is decidedly uncomfortable when he addresses Bruckner's Catholicism - his Adam's Apple is bolted down but watch his eyes when the moment of terror comes.
I rest my case.
If you need a Four, turn rather to Karajan (either will do), Celi, Furtwangler or Kna.