Neeme Järvi / Residentie Orkest den Haag

Bruckner: Symphony No. 5

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In this 2009 recording of Bruckner's Fifth Symphony, Neeme Järvi and the Residentie Orchestra The Hague raise the difficult aesthetic question of how a performance can get the notes right and still be dead wrong. There's no question but that Järvi knows the score. From the opening Allegro's rigorous developments to the closing Allegro moderato's vigorous fugues, he holds it in the palm of his hand and does whatever he wants with it. And there's no question but that the Dutch orchestra can play the heck out of the music. Every department shines, from the smooth strings to the blended winds, but particularly the mighty brass, whose chorales have tremendous weight and impact. But why did Järvi choose to do such weird things with balances? Why do the brass dominate whenever they enter? Why are the lower instruments so prominent, and the middle registers so muddy? Why are the contrasts between sections so stark as to be disruptive? And why does Järvi do such unholy things with tempos? Take, as a particularly egregious example, the Adagio. Eugen Jochum does it in 18 minutes; Furtwängler and Klemperer in about 15 minutes, but Järvi brings it in at an incredible 11 minutes, 15 seconds, and totally and utterly annihilates the spirit of the music. Devout Brucknerians will likely be aghast and appalled. Despite its technical accuracy, no one should take this performance as an accurate representation of Bruckner's Fifth.

Chandos' sound is superlative: strong, full, deep, colorful, and very vivid.

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