Bruckner: Symphonies Nos 1-9

Reviewed on Wed 23 Nov, 2016

The Eighth is notable for its employment of the original 1887 version in a reading from 2007 which controversially clocks in at over 95 minutes; the Ninth brings a recent (2013) traversal of terrifying intensity, blazing majesty and iron grip.

Volume 2 in SWR Music's exceedingly welcome and comprehensive Michael Gielen Edition is devoted to a composite cycle of Bruckner symphonies made up of studio and live recordings dating from 1968 to 2013. Of the items previously unreleased, the first two symphonies enjoy bracingly lucid, affectionate treatment; the Eighth is notable for its employment of the original 1887 version in a reading from 2007 which controversially clocks in at over 95 minutes (even more spacious than when Gielen memorably conducted it in London some years ago); and the Ninth brings a recent (2013) traversal of terrifying intensity, blazing majesty and iron grip. The remaining contents will be familiar to Gielen aficionados from previous incarnations on the Intercord, EMI and Hänssler Classic labels, and the majority still bear comparison with the best available (Nos 4, 6 and 7 being especially compelling in their unremitting sense of purpose, lyrical glow and affecting humanity). At its competitive price, this consistently stimulating set should be sought out by all serious collectors and deserves every success.
–Andrew Achenbach