Thirty years after his glorious performance of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E major with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Karl Böhm's live 1977 concert recording has been released on Audite, and this fine disc is required listening for any serious fan of the conductor or the composer. Böhm's discography of Bruckner's symphonies is comparatively small, with a number of his recordings dating from the 1930s and '40s, so any opportunity to hear his interpretations in modern sound with realistic stereo separation should be taken. And what an opportunity it is, to hear one of the most eloquent and expressive performances of this popular work, one that may not blow the competition away with massive orchestral force or powerful dynamics, but instead draws the listener in with its long-breathed lyricism, magical interplay of tone colors, and sensitivity to the subtleties of the richly chromatic harmonies. Böhm uses the 1885 version, as edited by Leopold Nowak, so the questionable cymbal crash and triangle roll that appear at the climax of the Adagio are, unfortunately, included; yet in most other respects, the listener can feel comfortable with the scholarship behind this exceptional performance. But more than giving a reliable rendition of the work, Böhm delivers a profound emotional experience that is perhaps most comparable to the soul-stirring effect of the great performances by Günter Wand, Eugen Jochum, or Georg Tintner. Listeners who come to the Symphony No. 7 for the first time through this recording will be initiated at the highest level. Audite's sound quality is first-rate, and the recording is unmarred by extraneous noises.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 7 in E major, WAB 107|