Herbert Blomstedt / Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

Bruckner: Sinfonie Nr. 8 c-Moll

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Naturally, committed Brucknerians will already have their favorite recordings of the Symphony No. 8 in C minor, usually one of the great performances by Günter Wand, Eugen Jochum, or Georg Tintner, or perhaps a less predictable choice from the renditions by Karl Böhm or Klaus Tennstedt. But in spite of such preferences, listeners should still hear the 2005 concert recording by Herbert Blomstedt and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. This traversal of the edition by Robert Haas is warm, fluid, and highly lyrical, and Blomstedt lets the music breathe by taking tempos at a fairly leisurely pace; the expansiveness of the score is a little exaggerated, but it is not stretched too much beyond recognition. Expressively, this performance seems slightly languid and diffuse in the first movement and somewhat lacking in urgency in the Scherzo, thus making the first disc a little underwhelming; Blomstedt and his orchestra achieve greater emotional depths in the Adagio and truly apocalyptic force in the Finale, so with a little patience, the listener will find the second disc has a big payoff. The most striking feature of this live performance is the great clarity of the parts, which are clearly differentiated in the multichannel SACD format; though the wide frequency range of this recording behooves one to adjust the volume in soft passages, the Gewandhausorchester's dynamics are finely balanced, the timbres are distinctive, and every note is fully audible. While this may not be the all-time best pick for Bruckner's last completed symphony, it is certainly worthwhile and one that dedicated fans will want to know about.

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