DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E Major, Blu-ray (2014)

An excellent recent multichannel video performance of the Bruckner Seventh.

Published on April 26, 2014

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E Major, Blu-ray (2014)

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E Major, Blu-ray (2014)

Performers: Staatskapelle Berlin/ Daniel Barenboim
Director: Elizabeth Malzer
Studio: Accentus Music/Staatskapelle Berlin/ Unitel Classica ACC 102177 [4/29/14] (Distr. by Naxos)
Video: 16:9 color 1080i HD
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1, PCM 2.0
Worldwide region code
Length: 72:20
Rating: ****1/2

The Seventh has been one of the most popular Bruckner Symphonies ever since its premiere in 1884. Barenboim conducts the original version here, before changes were made due to the suggestions of many of Bruckner’s friends. Barenboim had done a previous recording of the work in 1986 on a CD for the Eternities label, only that one was with the Berlin Philharmonic and this one is not

This one is one of the most monumentally-constructed of Bruckner’s symphonies, with a great spaciousness and high intensity.  Therefore it benefits greatly from the excellent 5.1 surround track provided on this Blu-ray. It was recorded live at the Philharmonie Berlin in June of 2010. The orchestra members seem to have a great familiarity with the music and let Bruckner’s developments unfold very naturally and organically.

I had two other Bruckner Sevenths on video to which I compared this one.  The first was the series Gunther Wand did in the late ‘90s with the NDR Symphony Orchestra, on a TDK DVD. He did the Robert Haas edition of the original version, and certainly has a way with the music, though the video is only 4:3 and stereo.  The other was Sergiu Cellibidache conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in 1992, on a EuroArts Blu-ray. This was the first time he had conducted this orchestra in 38 years, and the original 4:3 aspect ratio was masked to fill the 16:9 screen – not too successfully. It made the already fuzzy image even more fuzzy and often cut off the top of his head. The sound is also stereo. However, I think I’ll stay with this one for its striking artistic impact.

—John Sunier




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