<< -- 2 -- Bill Newman TOWARDS AND BEYOND THE MIGHTY EIGHTH
Klemperer, an ardent Bruckner advocate of the music he believed in, by
this stage had tended to lose control of line and argument. Czech-born Rafael
Kubelik had expressed a desire to conduct the Third and Fourth symphonies
(both on CBS-Sony), and eventually a live broadcast of the Eighth came into
circulation on the Orfeo label with the Bavarian Radio Orchestra.
Compare the timings against Klemperer and they are similar, yet Kubelik
performs the work in its entirety, a thrilling account that fuses frenetic
unleashings, lyrical second subjects, and spiritual contemplation. Ultimately
a fine performance, but not definitive.
The latest contender with this mighty work is Pierre Boulez (DG); surprising
at this stage as there is still a Mahler cycle awaiting completion. As one
would expect, the playing by the Berlin Philharmonic is magnificent and
the recording first class. Yet Boulez' cogent, finely balanced presentation
finally left me feeling that here was a performance very much on
top of the listener without any breathing space in which to register conflicting
emotions, inner struggles, final resolves. Quite out of character are the
sudden expanded climaxes minus the preparatory build-up.
Was there a performance of this great symphony on disc that I had not
heard? Some realization of how to present its compelling message that would
combine the finest qualities from the most revealing interpretations, yet
give full concentration to the musical meaning?
During the late 1970s I had seen LPs of the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra
under the direction of Rudolf Kempe on a specialist dealer's shelf. I pondered
over the enormous price, whilst Roger Hewland of Gramex pointed out its
collectors' value. That was the last time I saw the set until the recent
reissue of a CD transfer by SOMM.
Copyright © 21 October 2001
Bill Newman, Edgware, UK
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