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Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Pierre Boulez (Deutsche Grammophon 2894596782).

Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Pierre Boulez (Deutsche Grammophon 2894596782)

Maestro Boulez has produced some excellent recordings of Mahler for DG over the past several years; still, it comes as a surprise to find him conducting Bruckner. The performance on this CD was recorded from live performance at the 1996 International Bruckner Festival in St. Florian, Austria. Boulez uses the Haas version of the score, as does Gunter Wand in his live performance on a two-disc RCA release from 1989 (no longer available), which has long been my favorite recording of this truly awe-inspiring symphony. Not unexpectedly, Boulez is generally a bit faster in his performance; however, the music never sounds rushed, and the clarity that Boulez elicits from his players brings out the beauty of the music in a most natural-sounding way. I really enjoy both of these performances, but the fact that the Boulez is on one disc means that it is more likely to be the one I reach for to play when I want to hear this work.

An interesting alternative is the single-disc Nowak edition recorded by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jesus Lopez-Cobos on Telarc. With its burnished sound and excellent playing, it is a version that both music lovers and audiophiles can embrace. Still, the new DG sounds very good indeed, and now becomes my version of choice, going right into my collection alongside the discs by Wand (his performance of the Adagio may never be equalled) and Lopez-Cobos. Maybe someday my kids will be fighting over who gets which version. But probably not. -- KWN
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Author:Nehring, Karl W.
Publication:Sensible Sound
Date:Nov 1, 2000
Words:267
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