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Bruckner: Symphony No. 2 - Blomstedt

Bruckner: Symphony No. 2 - Blomstedt

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Classical - Orchestral


Bruckner: Symphony No. 2

Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
Herbert Blomstedt (conductor)

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Review by John Broggio - December 18, 2012

Another worthy addition to Blomstedt's cycle of the Bruckner symphonies.

We are lucky to already have an outstanding account of the second symphony on disc from another cycle in progress (Bruckner: Symphony No. 2 - Young) which also uses the 1872 version edited by William Carragan. If one looks at the total time, there is an incredible 9 minutes difference between Blomstedt finishing and Young concluding but for all except the Adagio, they are fairly close and any tempo differences are not dramatic enough to be "felt" strongly going one way or the other. In the Adagio, though, Blomstedt is some 5 minutes faster and gives a completely different perspective to the movement and one which not everyone will feel is at one with the "Feierlich" part of the "Feierlich, etwas bewegt" marking (the equivalent observation could equally be made of Young's account). The difference comes down to whether one wants a slow duple time (Blomstedt) or a slow quadruple time (Young). Both phrase to support their tempo choice but ultimately it depends on whether one believes that Bruckner had the style of Adagio found in his last 3 symphonies (Young) or was working towards that state (Blomstedt).

In the other movements, where all are consistently slightly faster than Young's Hamburg account, the Gewandhausorchester's tone is just that bit more translucent so that crucial lines (lower woodwind especially) find their voice more easily. The Scherzo shows the remarkable likeness to Schubert before transforming effortlessly into what we now regard as "classic" Bruckner (harmonically, melodically & tonally) & the Trio is pure joy to the ear. The outer movements gain immensely from the little extra nudge Blomstedt gives to the tempos for there is a gain of inner momentum that Young sacrifices for more weight & heft; not that there is any lack of weight here. Perhaps more than in the Adagio, the Gewandhausorchester mark their superiority with an extra level of deftness that turns almost instantly into the huge weighty sound expected in Bruckner and the tuning for Blomstedt has to be said to be noticeably more homogeneous throughout the orchestra than for Young.

The recording though is where Blomstedt's account is afforded markedly better treatment than Young is in Hamburg; there is more "air" to the sound and there is none of the close, boxed-in quality that afflicts the Oehms disc. The gain of this space and transparency is all ours for the clarity of the acoustic is not only reflected to us but clearly helps the Gewandhausorchester respond to one another better (both for phrasing and tuning purposes).

Strongly recommended.

Copyright © 2012 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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