Bruckner 8 – Staatskapelle Dresden/Haitink

0 of 5 stars

Symphony No.8 in C minor [1890 version, Haas edition]
Symphony No.38 in D, K504 (Prague)

Staatskapelle Dresden
Bernard Haitink

Bruckner recorded 3 December 2002 in Semperoper, Dresden; Mozart recorded 2 September 2002 in Kulturpalast am Altmarkt, Dresden

Reviewed by: Christian Hoskins

Reviewed: April 2009
PH07057 (2 CDs)
Duration: 1 hour 54 minutes



Feierlich, innig (solemnly, profound) from 5’04” has an eloquence which takes one’s breath away, while the allegro from 15’02” has tremendous visceral excitement. Altogether there is a collective sweep and sense of purpose that gathers the movement’s disparate episodes into a cumulative whole, concluding with an epic and moving account of the coda.

Staatskapelle Dresden is a major contributor to the success of the performance. The dark-hued timbre of its playing, so well suited to Bruckner, is supplemented by careful attention to balance and refinement of texture. Tutti passages have a collective fervour while solo instrumentals are notable for their subtlety of phrasing and tone colour.

The recording has a detail and weight that is in keeping with the performance. There is a slight hint of congestion in the very loudest climaxes, but otherwise the recording copes well with the wide dynamic range. A few coughs are audible near the start, but later the audience appears to have been spellbound into silence.

The set also includes a performance of Mozart’s ‘Prague’ Symphony. Haitink’s approach lacks the style of Bernstein with the Vienna Philharmonic on DG or the incisiveness of Mackerras with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra on Linn, but is satisfying nonetheless. The booklet features essays in German and English and is well endowed with photographs, including a number showing the extent of the flood damage in Dresden.

Bruckner 8 has been lucky in terms of recording. Notable performances include those by Furtwängler with the Vienna Philharmonic, Horenstein with the LSO on BBC Legends, and Wand with various orchestras, notably the NDR Symphony Orchestra on a TDK DVD. With this Dresden recording, Haitink’s performance joins this select group.

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