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Bruckner: Symphony No 5
Anton Bruckner, Franz Welser-Most, London Philharmonic
Bruckner: Symphony No 5
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1


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All Artists: Anton Bruckner, Franz Welser-Most, London Philharmonic
Title: Bruckner: Symphony No 5
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: EMI Classics
Release Date: 6/10/2003
Genre: Classical
Style: Symphonies
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 724357586221

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CD Reviews

A notably different kind of Bruckner Fifth
Kenji Fujishima | East Brunswick, NJ USA | 07/11/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If, like me, you have heard Herbert von Karajan's well-known DG recording of Bruckner's great Fifth Symphony played by the Berlin Philharmonic and found it occasionally too slow-moving and lumbering (particularly in the first movement), then this EMI recording of the piece with the London Philharmonic conducted by Franz Welser-Most is most certainly for you. This is all the way at the other end of the interpetive spectrum, fast and driven where Karajan's is broad and weighty. And yet Welser-Most's dramatic approach to this epic piece never seems merely superficial. The first movement, for instance, makes the most of the contrasts between fast and slow passages, and has a fiery conclusion to top it off. The second movement Adagio has a quick tempo that might not appeal to everyone (Karajan's slow but moving reading of the movement on his recording is pretty imposing), but you never get the feeling the emotions are being shortchanged in favor of speed. And if Welser-Most's third movement Scherzo pretty much conforms to interpretive tradition, the Finale, with its two big fugues, once again receives a fast but undeniably exciting reading with culminates in a glorious homecoming, the LPO brass fully seizing the opportunity to play out (but never degenerating into crudeness).

In sum, I liked this performance a lot. Welser-Most might choose fast tempos for most of the performance, but I never felt the music being shortchanged in favor of hollow flash (although you could say the tempos in the Finale are perhaps a bit too speedy for its own good, not giving enough weight to the huge fugues). The LPO may not match the sheer clarity and perfection of playing that Giuseppe Sinopoli receives from the Dresden Staatskapelle in his equally notable DG recording, but they still play brilliantly throughout, and the sound is as good as you expect considering that this was recorded in a concert hall (the Konzerthaus in Vienna) during live performances. For those who know this symphony very well, this might not be a first choice for the library shelves, but introduce this EMI recording to a first-time listener, and he/she might respond to it very positively. Recommended."
An alert, often exciting Fifth from the young Welser-Most
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 03/26/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This Bruckner 5th is patched together from live concerts in May-June, 1993, when Welser-Most was a rising young conductor -- too young in the opinion of London critics. They were slicing up an inexperienced maestro who was liked by his musicians and the public; in short order Welser-Most would resign from the London Phil. But even at this stage of his career he shows a natural affinity for Bruckner, and comparisons with his fellow Austrian, von Karajan, aren't amiss -- one is the king, the other the insurgent.

As another reviewwer points out, W-M's approach is lighter and faster than Karajan's, with punchy accents and a flexible beat. He cuts two minutes from the first movement and almost six from the Adagio compared to Karajan's famous account with the Berliners (DG, 1976). The Scherzo and finale are less drastically different. Two years ago W-M brought the Bruckner Fifth to Carnegie Hall with his present orchestra, the Cleveland, and it was a miracle of precision, elegance, and clarity -- but not excitement. This earlier account is more dashing and alert. He gets his London Phil. to play with commitment if not the finest sense of style; there's something dry and less than exuberant in the sonority. It would never be mistkaen for Viennese.

The cliche about the Fifth is that it is structurally episodic and difficult to organize. To the listener, though, those aren't the issue so much as keeping the piece interesting and varied -- it's easy to find your attention wandering otherwise. I think Welser-Most does quite a good job. Events are more pointed than massive, yet there's dynamism in the big brass climaxes. EMI provides so-so sound, but at this bargain price the performance is outstanding.

In the end, Welser-Most hasn't plumbed the depths of the Fifth, yet he's given us a version that's quick on its feet and easy to listten to, no small thing in this sprawling symphony."
David Saemann | 08/04/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Franz Welser-Most shares with Bernard Haitink and Riccardo Chailly the distinction of coming to terms with Bruckner in his 30's. It is almost an axiom of the classical music industry that it takes time and wisdom to master Bruckner, but these three conductors prove that not to be true. I have a telecast of Welser-Most conducting the London Philharmonic in Bruckner's 7th, and it blends detail and ecstacy in a highly satisfying way. This CD of Bruckner's 5th may not be quite as successful, but it definitely is the work of an eminent Brucknerian. Where Schuricht and Jochum find mystery and repose, Welser-Most finds excitement. This is a very passionate, youthful, and energetic reading, the most in this vein since Knappertsbusch, although he uses the corrupt Schalk version. Welser-Most really builds his climaxes. The endings of the 1st and 4th movements sound like a real upward fight. Similarly, Welser-Most introduces the beautiful second theme of the slow movement with weight and strength, rather than just luxuriating in it like some other conductors. The strings have an aggressive sound, more London than Vienna or Berlin. I would not want to hear this symphony this way all the time, but I doubt that Bruckner ever consigned his work to the interpretation of only old men. The sound engineering is very good, although there is not much sheen to the orchestral tone. I would rate this CD alongside Klemperer's live Vienna version as a performance that deserves to be heard rather than to be savored as a reference point."