For his project of recording the complete symphonies of Anton Bruckner on CPO, Mario Venzago has chosen to record each symphony with a different orchestra to re-create the sounds that Bruckner would have heard. Considering that Bruckner's experiences with orchestras spanned three decades, he would have witnessed the growth of the orchestra's size and the introduction of new instruments, which clearly influenced his decisions when he composed and revised each work. Venzago performs the Symphony No. 8 in C minor with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, following the 1890 version and employing the same instrumentation and ensemble scale, as well as traditional practices that are documented in performances from that period. The result is an Eighth that sounds strikingly different from the other symphonies, quite far removed from the early Romantic orchestra he used in the First, and considerably expanded from the ensembles he would have expected for the Fourth or even the Seventh symphonies. This approach gives us a better idea of Bruckner's intentions and brings distinctive characterizations to each work, rather than the homogenized and thick sound that conductors often apply to all of the symphonies, no matter what year they were composed. This live recording is clear and astonishingly spacious on CD, so the orchestra's lean string textures and luminous winds are easy to hear, and it's almost possible to pinpoint the placement of the instruments in the stereo sound field. This is an Eighth unlike any other on the market, so all serious Brucknerians should give it special attention.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 8 in C minor|