Symphony No. 8 in C minor (1889-90)
rec. Saal, Funkhaus, WDR Cologne, 7 June 1957. ADD MEDICI WDR MM021-2 [72:05]
symphonies have been described as “cathedrals of sound”,
and his eighth, dedicated to Emperor Franz Joseph I, is no
exception. Whether one is one of those who loves Bruckner’s
gargantuan works, or loathes them - there seems to be very
little middle ground, Bruckner being one of those few composers
who leaves no-one unstirred by either awe or tedium! - one
cannot deny that it is a ‘monumental’ work, even if just
in length! It was composed in 1884-5, and then revised in1889-1890
on the advice of the conductor Hermann Levi.
is famed for his Bruckner interpretations, and one can see
why. This recording is passionate and intense from the very
first note. In the first movement Allegro moderato Klemperer
and the Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester mingle hints of
undisguised wistful yearning with bursts of triumph. The
pace is steady, but not too slow.
second movement Scherzo contains some wonderful moments
of melting tenderness, yet I thought I detected a trace of
restraint in the triumphant ending of the movement, where
Klemperer seems to pull back a tiny bit from the emotion
of the moment. The Adagio third movement is radiant,
with gorgeous shades of light and dark – listen, for example,
to the spine-tingling moments around two minutes in – incredibly
beautifully done. It is a fairly swift version in comparison
with such recordings as Klaus Tennstedt (in 1982 with the
London Philharmonic Orchestra on EMI). The Finale is
given a dramatic rendition, with Klemperer presenting the
listener with everything from a rich, full orchestral sound
to great delicacy from the strings.
the whole, this is an excellent disc. The sound is fairly
good, with warm strings and little extraneous noise. The
Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester play with real feeling,
and, often, searing intensity. An exciting performance, and
well worth a listen.
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