Symphony No.7 in E [“The performance of the Symphony is Skrowaczewski’s own edition (not published).”]
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Recorded at Southbank Centre, London – Royal Festival Hall on 24 October 2012
CD No: LPO – 0071 Duration: 69 minutes Reviewed: October 2013
London Philharmonic/Stanisław Skrowaczewski – Bruckner Symphony 7 [LPO own label]
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
Stanisław Skrowaczewski turned 90 on October 3 this year. At the time of writing this review he remains active as a conductor and a composer. His view of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony is spacious but never moribund; indeed Skrowaczewski shrewdly allows the music its natural expanse while moving innately through episodes to create a cohesive whole. This is a glowing and humane performance, the London Philharmonic playing beautifully for its veteran maestro.
The first movement unfolds with dignity and flexibility, generously lyrical, especially so at the point when timpani are first heard (from 18’35” here) where the LPO musicians really expose the depth of Bruckner’s invention. The slow movement is solemn, deeply felt, and its radiance is also given full vent. Skrowaczewski builds the climax terrace upon terrace and when there unleashes much power; and – using his own edition – sides with Nowak by including the dubious cymbal clash. Here and throughout there is a conviction to this performance that is compelling. The scherzo is fleet and rhythmically chiselled, no allowance need be made for the conductor’s age, and the trio is most tenderly realised. The finale also has a spring in its step without overlooking the grave and exultant aspects. Authoritative strides are made.
What stands out here, in music that is often-played and –recorded, is that first and foremost one of Bruckner’s most-popular works is served with distinction, achieved with much insight and personality, and also innateness. One is always listening to Bruckner 7 and also aware of a very particular mind that is both inside the score and inspiring this impressive and persuasive reading of it, which has been finely recorded, as intimate and mighty as is required.