Franz Welser-Möst

Bruckner: Symphony No. 5

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Many of the great Bruckner recordings have been taken from live performances, and the legendary 1993 recording by Franz Welser-Möst and the London Philharmonic of the Symphony No. 5 in B flat major provides an excellent example. Of Bruckner's 11 symphonies, this is perhaps the most difficult to hold together because it poses several performance problems, due to its episodic nature, its frequent pauses, and its extremely long buildup to the Finale. It takes enormous energy and excitement to make this piece work, and Welser-Möst maintains a high level of both in the vibrant concert setting, which seems to invigorate the performers and keep them alert. The London Philharmonic is propulsive in the first movement, forward-leaning in the Adagio, and volatile in the Scherzo, all of which helps keep the symphony moving on its trajectory to the explosive fugue that unifies all the seemingly disparate themes of the work. The payoff here is sensational, for the reverberant Vienna Konzerthaus amplifies the orchestra's massive sonorities, and the full ensemble at the conclusion is nothing short of thrilling -- it brought the audience to its feet in a thunderous ovation. While other recordings of the Symphony No. 5 may be just as good in coherence or energy, few are as deep, resonant, and powerful as this one, and only a handful can match it for its power and glory.

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