One of the most grown-up review sites around

2019
52,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free


we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


TROUBADISC

with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation


absolutely thrilling


immediacy and spontaneity


Schumann Lieder


24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs


‘Box of Delights.’


J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue


GERNSHEIM Quartets
a most welcome issue


I enjoyed it tremendously


the finest traditions of the house


music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message


ground-breaking, winning release


Charpentier
screams quality


Surprise of the month


English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 5 in B flat major [84:03]
Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann
rec. Semperoper, Dresden, 8-9 September 2013
Video direction: Henning Kasten
Region Code: A,B,C
Picture format: 1080i 16:9
Sound: PCM Stereo; DTS-HD MA 5.1 Surround Sound
C MAJOR Blu-ray 717904 [89:00]

Christian Thielemann seems determined that the symphonies of Bruckner should play a key role in his programming as principal conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden. Indeed, we learn from the booklet that he intends to open each season of his tenure with one of the composer’s symphonies. So in 2012 he made his debut as principal with the Seventh Symphony (review) and this present account of the Fifth opened his second season. The day before the Dresden performances from which this film is compiled Thielemann and the orchestra had played the work at the Lucerne Festival and my colleague, John Rhodes, reviewing the concert for MusicWeb International Seen and Heard, was not entirely convinced, feeling that some parts of the outer movements were too expansive. I should say that I came across this review only after I had completed my work listening to this Dresden performance.

I must say that I found Thielemann’s performance convincing but it is true that he takes longer over it than a number of other conductors I’ve experienced. Haitink, for instance, took 77:16 in his 1988 Vienna recording (review). Klemperer’s 1967 recording plays for 79:29 (review) and the version by GŁnter Wand that I own — there are several in the catalogue — is a live 1989 performance that is a whole ten minutes quicker that this Thielemann rendition: on that occasion Wand took just 74:01. So Thielemann is spacious in his approach but he held my attention throughout. That’s not always the case, I find, in this symphony, much though I admire Bruckner’s music.

Before a note has been sounded the conductor had me favourably disposed because he divides his violins left and right. The cellos are seated to the left of the first violins and the violas are between the cellos and the second violins. The double basses are not in their customary position: Thielemann places them to his left, behind the firsts. So we have the twin benefits of antiphonal violins and the heart of the string choir, the violas and celli, placed in the centre. I approve.

The long introduction to the first movement is spaciously conceived and expertly controlled: the tempo may be unhurried but here and elsewhere this conductor demonstrates a very fine sense of the line. He holds the main allegro on a steady rein and in this, the main body of the movement, Thielemann shows a flexible though convincing approach to tempi. This is a movement that demands great concentration from the conductor and players and the necessary focus is very evident here. The playing of the Staatskapelle Dresden is hugely impressive, not least the wide dynamic range.

The Adagio is patiently shaped by Thielemann; he has an aristocratic bearing on the podium and that quality is evident in the music-making. Once again the orchestral playing is very fine indeed. It seems to me that the conductor shapes Bruckner’s long paragraphs expertly. The climaxes well up majestically in this majestic traversal and the arrival of each one seems inevitable which, to me, is a hallmark of excellent Bruckner conducting. The scherzo is robust; there’s vigour and excellent use of dynamic contrast. In the trio there’s great delicacy in the playing.

In the introduction to the vast finale Bruckner recalls material from the preceding movements, rather in the manner of Beethoven in his Ninth. Once the Allegro moderato is under way Thielemann holds the structure together well, which is no mean feat. The fugal music is worked out with suitable rigour; here, surely, we hear Bruckner the organist at work. As the work nears its conclusion Thielemann and his orchestra bring out the grandeur in the music but never so much as flirt with a descent into overblown rhetoric; in these concluding pages the Dresden brass, who have been impressive throughout the work, make a superb contribution.

This strikes me as a distinguished account of Bruckner’s Fifth. It’s a work of his that I admire rather than love but I appreciated this superbly played performance very much. The sound is very good and the camera-work is expert. I don’t know if Thielemann uses the Haas or Nowak edition of the score. So far as I am aware the differences between the two are not great but it would have been nice if that rather important information had been included in the booklet.

John Quinn


 

 



We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount



Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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

Sample: See what you will get

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