One of the most grown-up review sites around

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


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

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

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. 8 in C minor (ed. Haas)
Staatskapelle Dresden/Christian Thielemann
rec. Semperoper, Dresden, 10 June 2012
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 716204 [89:00]

This live performance has already been reviewed in DVD format by Simon Thompson and its appearance on Blu-Ray is greatly to be welcomed.

This is my third encounter with Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Dresden in Bruckner. I’ve already seen and heard them in a 2013 account of the Fifth Symphony (review) and also in a 2012 traversal of the Seventh (review). This performance of the Eighth was given some three months before Thielemann took up his post as principal conductor of the orchestra, a tenure that he inaugurated with the aforementioned performance of the Seventh. In fact, I learned from the booklet that in 2009 he made his first appearance with the Dresden orchestra conducting Bruckner’s Eighth when he stood in for an indisposed colleague. So impressed were the orchestra that an invitation to be their next principal conductor followed shortly afterwards.

If that 2009 performance was of a similar quality to this present one then I’m not surprised the Dresden musicians were impressed. This is a very fine performance indeed. In the opening pages the lustrous strings and then, shortly afterwards, the majestic sound of the brass choir both give notice that the orchestra is on top form and so it proves as the performance unfolds. The tone of the orchestra is rich and burnished with the strings a particular glory. As the first movement progresses it’s evident that Thielemann has a fine and clear-eyed sense of the music’s architecture. There’s great power in the climaxes and the musical lines are wonderfully sustained. This is a compelling performance with the orchestra demonstrating real commitment.

The scherzo is dynamic. When the trio is reached Thielemann takes it quite steadily and he moulds the music most expressively. Indeed, I can imagine that some people may think he lingers a bit too much but in the context of this live performance I was convinced, especially because the music is so beautifully played.

If anything the performance goes up to an even higher level during the great Adagio. Here the marvellous depth of orchestral tone is especially evident; there’s a wonderfully firm bass foundation to the sound of the string choir. Bruckner asked for three harps if possible though not all orchestras accommodate that request. They do in Dresden, and the important harp contributions really make their mark sumptuously in this performance. The Wagner tubas now enrich the sound of the brass section even further. The performance is simply superb, gripping the listener’s attention consistently. I admired greatly the expertly controlled build-up to each climax so that when these climaxes are attained they are open up majestically and without any histrionics. The long, glowing coda is simply marvellous. This is an outstanding performance and it’s small wonder that when it’s over the conductor gives a nod of appreciation to his players.

The majestic brass fanfares, thrillingly driven forward, get the massive finale off to the most imposing start possible. The performance that follows is simply tremendous as conductor and orchestra unveil the many splendours of Bruckner’s score, including the subdued, rapt pages. The triumphant ending usually brings immediate applause from audiences. It’s interesting to see that when this particular performance ends the Dresden audience is sufficiently disciplined – or impressed – that they allow quite some time even after Thielemann has put down his baton before commencing what soon becomes a standing ovation. One suspects the Dresden public realised that their orchestra’s new chief had just set out his stall - and in some style.

This is a magnificent Bruckner performance. Thielemann’s conception of Bruckner’s masterpiece is compelling and the Dresden orchestra plays the score superbly. The Blu-Ray sound is very good indeed and the sympathetic camera work does justice to the occasion.

John Quinn

Previous review (DVD): Simon Thompson



We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 reviews

Advertising on

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: 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
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger