Bruckner: Symphony No. 5 - The Cleveland Orchestra / Franz Welser-Most
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Several other videos exist that were shot in Sankti-Florian--a Bruckner EIGHTH conducted by Karajan in 1978 (on Polygram laserdisc) and another Bruckner EIGHTH conducted by Boulez in 1996 (currently in the DVD catalog). The texture of the first recording is murky, but the second recording has solved the miking challenges. Clearly this hall has a very long acoustic reverb, and the conductor has to keep the ensemble from racing past itself sonically. It is not so much a matter of holding the players back as getting them to listen to themselves and one another in a different way than in the concert hall.
Karajan's studio recordings of the Bruckner EIGHTH are like lightning, but his recording in the church is more stately. So this venue is not the ideal place to see a conductor and orchestra show their own special characteristics; here they must bow to the place, and it is Bruckner's own place, after all. A case could be made that Bruckner always had the reverb of Sankti-Florian in his head.
Having heard this disc on better equipment, I think there is some problem with the recording. The complete lack of hall ambience deadens the slower passages. The sound engineers must have overcompensated for the long hall reverb. The performance of the same piece by Günter Wand, also available on DVD, is technically a much better recording.
Simply put, the performance is TOO reverential, and never quite catches fire as it ought to. Welser-Most looks as though he's trying to be rather controlled and economical with his gestures. But with the Cleveland Orchestra in front of him, almost the opposite is needed. Every note from every player is perfectly in place, and perfectly in tune. To make a bad metaphor, their front yard is manucured to absolute perfection. In the interview with W-M that comes with the DVD, he compliments the Cleveland Orchestra on the fact that they don't allow their brass to dominant over everything; the way that so many other American orchestras do.Read more ›
Bruckner 5 strikes me in many ways as something akin to Beethoven 3 (despite the last movement's resemblance to the final movement of Beethoven 9, in its restatement of themes from earlier movements). I would venture that for most people new to classical music, the Eroica is not their introduction to Beethoven's symphonies. They probably come to him through the 5th or 9th. Similarly, I would venture that people new to Bruckner come to him not through this symphony, but through the 4th, the 7th (as I did, 10 years ago, after living with the 7th for 35 years), or the 8th. Yet in both works, these composers are flexing their symphonic muscles, particularly in the use of counterpoint. Bruckner is no less successful than Beethoven, despite the fact that the sound and structure of their works are universes apart. But, for me and I think many others, Bruckner 5 stands as a milestone in this great composer's body of works, no less significant than the Eroica stands in Beethoven's.
With that said, I hasten to add that I find this performance to be as about as close to perfect as imaginable. I own almost every performance of this work available on CD or DVD, because when I first encountered it, long before I came to the 8th and 9th, it was love at first hearing. I know it's absurd, but I think of Bruckner 5 as my secret--only *I* know how great it is (stupid, I know--just ask Franz Welser-Möst). But, this symphony is closest to my heart, among all of his works.
And this performance is breathtaking.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is perhaps worth seeing/hearing...once. The major strengths are the tasteful and fine playing of the Cleveland Orchestra, and hearing this in St. Florian. Read morePublished on August 14, 2010 by Mogulmeister
here another magnificent performance by the cleveland orchestra of bruckners 5th symphony, played by this american elite orchestra at the stiftsbasilika of st. Read morePublished on May 1, 2010 by jose zarzo,principal horn ,orquesta filarmonica de gran canaria,spain
Truly a concert worth watching. The greatness of the Cleveland Orchestra plus a maginificent setting. Double the value.Published on December 25, 2007 by AnObservation
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