Bruckner 7/Roger Norrington

0 of 5 stars

Symphony No.7 in E

Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra
Sir Roger Norrington

Recorded 27 & 28 September 2008 in Liederhalle, Beethovensaal, Stuttgart

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: November 2009
CD 93.243
Duration: 55 minutes



Roger Norrington’s fresh and fleet version of Bruckner 7 is very persuasive, the first movement begins already as an allegro (and not particularly moderato, either), the “pure tone” (Norrington) of non-vibrato strings having the sound of authenticity about them in the best sense of the word. Norrington’s forward-moving account of the opening movements certainly deals well enough with transitional problems (there is no longer what could be termed a ‘slow introduction’), although whether the conductor’s dash through some episodes is quite what Bruckner wanted is another matter; some passages do seem rather comic, as if played-back at wrong speed, but not, it must be said, hard-pressed. Just occasionally one feels a lack of gravitas but there is a refreshing directness here, good blend and balance, and a sense of new discovery by the very willing members of the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra.

The vibrato-less strings come into their own in the second movement, the music inward and chaste rather than ‘in mourning’, a vernal reading of a movement that here climaxes in fine, brassy style and, thankfully, without the cymbals and triangle that are usually added in (as in Leopold Nowak’s edition); so, effectively, although this is not stated in Hänssler’s documentation, Norrington is using Robert Haas’s publication, but we are advised that “… Roger Norrington compared the different printed editions to the accounts of Bruckner’s revisions.”

The scherzo and trio proceeds, respectively, by stealth and rapt lyricism, and the finale has a more relaxed gait than might be anticipated, playful and benedictional, yet with the relationships to the first movement made clear so that the full-circle return is joyously achieved.

With excellent sound, this thoughtful and well-researched account, one that also imparts originality (the ‘shock’ of being closer to Bruckner’s implicit intentions) and exudes spontaneity is a recording that is mandatory for Brucknerians (whatever their individual reactions may be), and perhaps also for those who resist his music.

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