Burnished brass and a nuanced understanding of the massive architecture of Bruckner's symphonies provided the underpinnings of Lorin Maazel's Bruckner cycle in Munich from January through March 1999. The subtle intricacies of Maazel's distinguished readings are fully captured in the live recordings of those performances, now available as a boxed set.
Of Anton Bruckner’s 11 symphonies, the perennially popular 7th in E major is his most consistently melodious, evenly paced, & lyrically flowing, with comparatively few false starts, awkward pauses, or tedious fanfares. For this exceptional hybrid SACD from PentaTone, Yakov Kreizberg & the Vienna Symphony deliver 1 of the smoothest & roundest performances of the symphony heard in years. Yet it might actually be too polished for the liking of some old-guard Bruckner fans, who may argue that the orchestra is too mellow, luscious, & soft, & that Kreizberg’s inflections & phrases are too nuanced & sensual for the composer’s pure, almost sacred, intentions. But more important than the undeniably rich tonal quality found here is the interpretation, which draws on the style of Wagner’s most ardent music; some of the more ecstatic passages of Lohengrin & Tristan und Isolde may come to mind when one hears this disc.
Rafael Kubelik was one of the 20th century's most brilliant and charismatic conductors, yet under-appreciated because of his reluctance to embrace the "star" system. Here he is seen working with the great orchestras of Berlin, Vienna and Amsterdam, and featured in a bonus biographical documentary acclaimed for "stylish camera-work and a counterpoint of image, word and music reflecting Kubelik's spontaneity, exuberance, trust in emotion, and ability, even in tailcoat, to retain his warmth and humanity" (Süddeutsche Zeitung).