Daniel Barenboim / Staatskapelle Berlin

Bruckner: Symphony No. 7

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As one of the world's leading Bruckner conductors, Daniel Barenboim has assumed a role that was filled in the previous generation by such eminant figures as Günter Wand, Georg Tintner, and Eugen Jochum. Not that his numerous readings since the 1970s have been regarded as even in quality or universally praised, but Barenboim has had considerable success with Bruckner's best-known symphonies, improving as he has matured and finding a following among open-minded listeners. This live recording of the Symphony No. 7 in E major is one of Barenboim's finer interpretations, and the playing by the Staatskapelle Berlin is very much in the traditional style, with a depth of emotion and expansiveness of form that really should appeal to the old guard, as well as to newcomers. The counterpoint is lucid and the textures are consistently transparent, so all of Bruckner's felicities are fully audible; but this is not a fussy performance by any means. The sweep and majesty of the music is fully realized, and Barenboim sustains the orchestra's energy and passion throughout, even with a few rough edges, so there is scarcely a dull moment. Deutsche Grammophon's digital recording in the concert setting is focused and clear, and the audience's sounds are only heard in the breaks between movements. [Note for purists: despite Bruckner's rejection of them, the triangle and cymbals are used at the climax of the Adagio.]

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