The greatest virtue of Bernard Haitink's live recording of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 in E major with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is its stunning clarity, a characteristic noted in several of the conductor's other concert recordings, but one which is of paramount significance in this captivating CD. Bruckner's symphonic music has long been interpreted as architectural in form, and conductors have often let small details of articulation, dynamics, and tone color fall by the wayside while concentrating on the larger matters of structure and pacing. Not so Haitink, who grasps all aspects of the symphony and delivers a powerful interpretation, yet at the same time approaches the music with a fine ear to the slightest nuances and most delicate timbral effects, and makes it seem quite fresh and intimate, even to ears that have become jaded from hearing many other traversals of this popular work. The CSO is one of the world's greatest orchestras and can be expected to turn in a grand performance of Bruckner's Seventh any day of the week; but under Haitink's attentive and meticulous direction, the orchestra is absolutely spellbinding and this perennial favorite sounds quite new and vital, particularly in the subtle shading of woodwind combinations and in the exceptionally translucent playing of the strings. The reproduction is remarkably clean for a live recording, and passages at the softest levels are virtually unblemished by audience noises.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 7 in E major, WAB 107|