One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 8 in C minor (1890 edition, ed. Nowak) (1887, 1890)
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Rafael Kubelik
rec. Herkulessal der Residenz, Munich, 12 May 1977
BR KLASSIK 900703 [78:12]

Experience Classicsonline
The relationship between the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and Rafael Kubelik (1914-1996) formed a distinguished part of the orchestra’s history and the conductor’s career. He was principal conductor between 1961 and 1979, but worked for the orchestra many times before that. Their recorded legacy is notable for cycles of the Dvorák and Mahler symphonies, but their work together in the symphonies of Bruckner was important too, as evidenced by the interesting booklet notes that accompany this issue of a live performance from 1977.

The conductor chose to perform to perform the revision of 1890 which represented Bruckner’s final thoughts, rather than the original version of 1887 as listed on the CD details. While the pedantry of Bruckner enthusiasts is well known around the musical world, it really is sloppy in the extreme to make a major blunder like this for what is an important release. Each alternative needs to be considered on its merits, and surely on this occasion the composer’s second thoughts were better than his first. True, if we only had the first version it would still rank as a masterly score. Moreover there is a danger that any listener will become familiar with one performance of one edition, inviting doubts when another is presented. Even so, for this reviewer at least, Bruckner’s 1890 Eighth is as great a symphony as the repertory contains, whereas the earlier version does not quite maintain the tension, build the sonorities and move the spirit to the same extent. So three cheers that what we have here dates from 1890.

Whereas many recordings of this great symphony take up more than a single CD, including the magnificent new version by Christian Thielemann and the Dresden Staatskapelle (Hänssler Profil PH10031), Kubelik’s faster tempi break the 80-minute barrier. But in a good performance, and this is such, the music should make the listener feel that it could not possibly be otherwise. That said, the recorded market-place for Bruckner symphonies is a crowded one and comparisons are inevitable if decisions need to be made.

The cogency of Kubelik’s view is not in doubt. The music is never cheapened by vulgar exaggerations and the symphonic lines are sensitively and eloquently drawn. The orchestral playing too is exemplary, with each section confirming their international credentials. However, the recording is adequate and no more, sounding as though it dated from the later 1950s rather than the 1970s. The performance is not poorly recorded, but there is a lack of space and atmosphere when compared with more recent versions which serve the composer better, conducted by Thielemann (above), Günter Wand with the Berlin Philharmonic (RCA Red Seal 09026 68839 2) or Herbert von Karajan and the Vienna Philharmonic (DG 427 811 2).

Kubelik's was a great conductor and his love of Bruckner’s music is articulated throughout. Above all the sensitivity to the ebb and flow of the longest movement (III), Adagio, is a miracle of its kind. He creates an urgency of emotion that matches that of Wand, with the result that the movement’s great climax replete with cymbals makes an overwhelming impression, as the composer intended it should. However, the scherzo is rather less compelling, since the rich sonorities of the brass-writing makes less impact than the score implies. Overall the intensity of feeling that is central to this music is always there, in the first movement and finale particularly. Listen for example to the climax that releases the death-watch coda of the former. The apocalyptic closing bars of the symphony represent a tour de force of intellectual imagination and organisation, magnificently combining the principal themes of all four movements. While Kubelik makes this sound like a true apotheosis, a broader tempo might have ensured greater clarity and weight.

Terry Barfoot











































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.