> Anton Bruckner - Symphony No. 7 [JQ]: Classical CD Reviews- Oct 2002 MusicWeb(UK)






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Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No 7 in E major
Original version (1881/83)
Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester
conducted by Günter Wand
Recorded 18 January 1980 in the Grosser Sendesaal (now the Klaus von Bismarck Saal), Cologne
BMG RCA 09026 63937 2 [6450"]


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This recording comes from Günter Wands complete cycle of Bruckner symphonies, set down in the 1980s. Having been a bit disappointed by the companion performance of the Sixth Symphony Im pleased to report that this account of the Seventh finds Wand back on his best form.

In general I find the tempi which Wand sets in this performance have the feel of rightness to them. Equally, the relationship between the various tempi within a movement is, for the most part, judged most perceptively. That said, I did feel that the broader passage in the first movement (track 1) from 701" to 10 02" was just a bit too relaxed. I felt that hereabouts the performance teetered on the edge of becoming becalmed but other listeners may disagree. On the other hand, later in the same movement (track 1, 1837") Wands handling of the radiant coda is masterly, building the speed and tension most impressively.

The following adagio has all the breadth and dignity one could desire. As Ive found so often with Wand, he really does slow movements exceptionally well, presenting them simply, truthfully and atmospherically. The build up to the great climax (track 2, from 15 26") is most imposing. At the climax itself Wand eschews the cymbal clash but so well has the climax been prepared that the overall effect is in no way spoiled. The coda, intoned by the quartet of Wagner tubas (1854"), displays dignified grief and horns, tubas and strings impart a sonorous glow to the last nine bars of the movement.

If one were to be hypercritical there is a suspicion of flawed tuning in the lower brass in the scherzo (track 3, 146") but this is a momentary lapse and the movement as a whole bowls along splendidly with a suitably easeful trio. The beneficent finale is well played and though I thought Wand could, with advantage, have broadened the tempo just a fraction at the very end this is, overall, a very successful reading of the movement.

In summary, this is a well-played performance and a very authoritative interpretation which can be recommended confidently. The re-mastered sound is very good. Admirers of this fine Bruckner conductor need not hesitate.

John Quinn


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