Ivor Bolton / Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra

Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 7

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It would be nice to be able to say that Ivor Bolton and the Mozarteum-Orchester Salzburg are up for Bruckner's Seventh -- but it would not be true. First, whatever its merits in classical repertoire, the Mozarteum-Orchester lacks the weight, the depth, and the power to play Bruckner. Too often the strings sound too small and slight, the winds sound too tiny and timid, the brass sounds too reserved and restrained, the ensemble sounds too tentative and ad hoc, and, worst of all, everyone sounds unconvinced by Bruckner's mighty music. Second, whatever his merits in other repertoire, Ivor Bolton lacks the insight, the sensitivity, and the spirituality to conduct Bruckner. In his hands, the score sounds mundane, prosaic, and, worst of all, fairly tedious. The opening Allegro moderato dawdles, the Adagio meanders, the Scherzo moves too quickly without actually getting anywhere, and the Finale wanders toward the ultimate climax as if it had nothing better to do. To top it off, Oehms' clear, clean, and close sound only exposes the weakness of the strings and the flaws in the ensemble. There are dozens of better recordings of the Seventh -- try Furtwängler's searing performance with the Berlin Philharmonic from 1949, and, if you live through it, try the wholly devastating account from 1951. Bolton and the Mozarteum-Orchester's performance is only for those who like their Bruckner safe as milk.

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