> Bruckner Symphony 8 Skrowaczewski 74321340162 [JW]: Classical Reviews- January 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No 8
Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra/Stanislaw Skrowaczewski
Recorded Kongresshalle, Saarbrucken October 1993
ARTE NOVA 74321 34016 2 (2 CDs) [82.24] Superbudget


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Recorded on two nights, on 8 and 9 October 1993, this disc joins the rest of Skrowaczewski’s Bruckner cycle. At a surely unprecedented super budget price this Eighth is a worthy addition to the catalogue and contains in it manifold examples of the conductor’s long association with Bruckner (collectors will well remember his Fourth with the Hallé, last on Carlton). He achieves superb climaxes, perfectly weighted, with robust and eloquent orchestral playing that never congeals into the generic. There can be times when a somewhat more individual solo patina is called for but otherwise the orchestra is responsive and fully equal to Bruckner’s demands.

At 82.24 this is a slow performance – though not unconscionably so – but in such matters it is frequently the interrelatedness of tempi which is of paramount importance and here Skrowaczewski reveals his strengths as both a thinker in paragraphs and as a master of Brucknerian punctuation. This is a big and dark-textured performance but listen to the way the veiled string tone is introduced at 5’12 in the Adagio to appreciate the level of subtlety and preparation that has gone toward a performance such as this, a detail which is never mannered and emerges with just the right weight of tone. Or listen to the control of dynamics at the close of the same movement to understand and appreciate just what gradations of sound really mean.

Such flexibility and sensitivity can be found throughout the discs – the symphony spills onto the second CD, which contains the finale – and if this cannot for me displace the greatest recordings committed to disc (Karajan and Knappertsbusch amongst them) it is an excellent, well-recorded and thoroughly convincing account worthy of the highest interest.

Jonathan Woolf


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