While the ensemble successfully rendered the melancholic second movement with poignancy, the flashier outer ones felt underwhelming in their distance. Wolfram Brandal played the violin part with shimmering luster and maintained precision, and, on viola, Yulia Deyneka’s playing tended to sour at the top, but in the depths she brought out an evocative, smoky timbre. Together, the pair worked nicely together, complementing each other in virtuosic antiphonal passages.
From the very first bars of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, wrought with great dignity by the cellos, the Staatskapelle Berlin’s sound expanded to fill the hall. Throughout, even the most delicate playing was clear, while the many thunderous episodes resounded so vividly that one could feel the brass vibrating in the floorboards.
From beginning to end, Bruckner leads the listener on journey of serene pastoral fantasies and climaxes. While this diversity has the potential to confound expectations, Daniel Barenboim, ever a master of pacing, allowed the music to flow comfortably, and made even the most abrupt shifts feel fluid and organic. The expansive second movement became a blanket of sound, and the fiery Scherzo erupted into a wild blaze of energy; the juxtaposition of this intensity with the lush Trio was entirely natural.
While Barenboim must be commended for skillfully and colorfully conjuring brash drama and lyrical melody, it was his ability to successfully balance the two that ultimately allowed the Symphony to shine.