Herbert Blomstedt / Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

Bruckner: Sinfonie Nr. 7 E-Dur

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With the exceptional conductor Herbert Blomstedt leading the great Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in this surround-sound recording of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E major, one would naturally expect this to be an extraordinary SACD by any measure, but what one actually experiences when hearing it is almost beyond belief. Even the most jaded Brucknerian who has heard this popular symphony countless times before will fall under its lyrical spell all over again and appreciate the magnificence of the music-making; those who have only a passing acquaintance with the work will immediately feel that something special is happening here. Bruckner's long-breathed lines, ecstatic climaxes, radiant orchestration, burnished harmonies, and subtle dynamics all come through in Blomstedt's expert direction of the score (the 1885 original version, edited by Robert Haas, which does not include the notorious cymbal and triangle crash at the climax of the Adagio); his inspirational leadership undoubtedly drew out the finest playing this historic orchestra could produce, especially in the seamless flow of the music and the warm, glowing tone that continuously radiates from the ensemble. The gorgeous sound quality of this 2006 concert recording also makes it a decisive winner, and the instrumental sections sound distinct, full-bodied, and nearly palpable in the spacious multichannel environment. There are other great recordings of the Symphony No. 7 that deserve equal praise, but after listening to this intensely compelling -- indeed, soul-stirring -- performance, one will be hard pressed to think of any that can surpass it: put simply, this performance is one for the record books.

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