Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 - Blomstedt
Classical - Orchestral
Bruckner: Symphony No. 7
Herbert Blomstedt (conductor)
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Review by John Broggio - January 12, 2013
An outstanding account in startlingly honest sound.
A minor word of warning - this disc contains applause; on track 1 as Herbert Blomstedt is presumably making his way to the podium and on track 6 following the performance. As the symphony itself is contained on tracks 2-5, it is perfectly possible to avoid the intrusion of applause if one wishes but personally I find it adds a tremendous sense of occasion to the proceedings.
Immediately, as the cellos begin their arpeggiated ascent under the tremolando of the divided violins, one can appreciate the clarity of articulation and vision that orchestra and conductor bring to the score respectively. Everything is just "so" and the blending of instruments is precisely what the word symphony means. All sections of the orchestra find great depth of tone and range in dynamic; Blomstedt balances and phrases so that horn passages in the first movement presage the wonderful coda of the great slow movement. What really strikes the listener is how soft-edged a sound they achieve even on the tautest of fortissimo tutti entries; at no point is there any hint of roughness nor bravura projection for its own sake. Perhaps best of all, in the first movement, Blomstedt manages to create a feeling of near stasis without the listener being aware of any slowing down into such a state nor the tempo returning to the earlier pulse - extraordinarily subtle indeed.
The slow movement, one of the great slow movements from any composer, is similarly magical. Once again, the entries have no hard edge to them. Instead, a rich, velvety carpet of sound is rolled out that just is incredibly "clean" (this is far from the Karajan school of string "soup"). The pacing chosen makes the music move inexorably from phrase to phrase but is not what one would call a flowing tempo. The terracing of dynamics within and between each phrase allows each miniature climax to arise as naturally as tides ebb and flow. The coda is as touching as one could wish for - tremendously moving.
Thankfully, Querstand grant us over 20s before launching into the Scherzo. Once again, the entirely unnatural naturalness of the music making is predominant feature of playing and conducting alike. The quietness of much of the string playing belies the undercurrents of energy that one can hear surging beneath the calculated bucolic mood of Bruckner's music. The brass contributions in tutti passages are particularly impressive in their layering of sound upon sound whilst still giving each line a firm sense of direction. The final is no less impressive and shares many of the characteristics of the opening movement. Superb pacing and here more than in the earlier movements, one appreciates the split violins. After a glowing coda, the audience do not leap in but let the sound settle before providing a deserved ovation. One is sorely tempted to join in!
The sound is just wonderful - we are placed in a prime seat in the Gewandhaus and, during the music, the audience is largely silent. There are a few instances of an isolated cough but nothing that should trouble all except the most cough-phobic listener (the exception to this are the breaks between movements - this is more a document of performances than what LSO Live deliver).
Copyright © 2013 John Broggio and HRAudio.net