Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 / Klaus Tennstedt, Boston SO [DVD]

Album Summary

>Bruckner, Anton : Symphony no 7 in E major, WAB 107
Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

This rare material represents some of the earliest concert footage that exists of Klaus Tennstedt from this key chapter in his career. This concert took place just 3 years after Tennstedt made his dramatic US debut with the BSO performing Bruckner 8 - a newspaper headline the following day described the experience as 'once in a lifetime'.

Tennstedt formed a very special relationship with the BSO, conducting it regularly for 10 years. They covered a great deal of the core Austro-German repertoire that suited Tennstedt so well. This DVD is only the second instance of a performance featuring Tennstedt with the BSO having been made available to the public.

BBC Music Magazine
Some of the earliest extant footage of Tennstedt with the Boston Symphony in a superb Bruckner Symphony No. 7, monumental yet warm, with terrific momentum in the faster parts.

Notes & Reviews:

Run Time: 66 min.
Region: All
Picture Format: NTSC, 4:3
Sound Format(s): LPCM Mono,



Reviews

Tennstedt's Timeless Bruckner
The legendary Klaus Tennstedt (1926-1998) leads a riveting, intensely lyrical performance of Anton Bruckner's most popular and immediately appealing symphony. Tennstedt's tempos, at least in the first two movements, are somewhat slower than the norm. The second, for example, stretches out to a leisurely twenty-two and one half minutes. But the conductor's dramatic gift ensures that each episode commands our undivided attention. Moreover he manages Bruckner's often abrupt changes of mood and color with uncommon skill and sensitivity. Indeed this splendid performance alone would guarantee Tennstedt a place in the pantheon of great Bruckner interpreters from Wilhelm Furtwangler to Christian Thielemann.

The video reveals that Tennstedt conducts with his entire body--particularly his hands, elbows, shoulders, and head. Gestures range from the tiniest motion of the tip of the baton to broad, sweeping movements of the conductor's arms which slash the air wildly and bring forth volcanic eruptions from the great Boston Symphony. According to the booklet, Tennstedt was so nervous and insecure in 1974 that he very nearly cancelled his first appearance with this orchestra. Here, just three years later, he exudes tremendous confidence and exercises total command of his forces. Nonetheless he is not afraid to smile when warranted by the music and to even dance a bit in the joyous scherzo.

It is unclear from the booklet which edition of the score Tennstedt employed for this performance. However the cymbal crash in the slow movement, restored by Leopold Nowak in 1954, is included.

This DVD captures the Boston band at very nearly the peak of its considerable powers. In more than an hour of challenging, exhausting music--especially for the brass--I detected only one tiny flaw: a few cracked notes from the clarinets. The warmth and beauty of the strings (especially the first violins and double basses) hark back to Serge Koussevitzky's heyday nearly thirty years before. Flutist Doriot Anthony Dwyer, as so often in this era, deserves special recognition for the almost impossible richness of her tone and the majesty of her phrasing. The seemingly tireless brasses provide a glowing harmonic underpinning to the proceedings, and when called upon (as they were quite frequently in this score) they make a most magnificent racket. Even the timpanist shines here. His deafening crescendo toward the end of the first movement is truly astonishing.

The camera work and direction are generally sensible, especially given that this was a live telecast. A few significant solos were missed, and the occasional split-screen effects are distracting and unnecessary. And, oh my, don't those Wagner Tubas look strange? At climactic moments, the director generally defaults to a wide shot of the full orchestra from the back of the hall, but the ensemble is so distant from the camera that hardly any detail (other than the pipes of Symphony Hall's familiar organ) is visible.

For a 1977 television broadcast, the sound is unexpectedly vivid and detailed. The basses and timpani sound unexpectedly rich and full. Further, the score's many delicate wind solos have been expertly captured without undue spotlighting. Unfortunately the violins seem quite far from the microphones (at least in the opening movement), but the ear quickly compensates, especially given the sweep and organic power of Tennstedt's remarkable interpretation. Only after glancing at the back of the box did I realize that this recording was described as "enhanced mono" (whatever that is) and not true stereo.

In other words, urgently recommended. Now, ICA, can we please have more Tennstedt?
Submitted on 06/16/12 by Tom Godell 
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Works Details

>Bruckner, Anton : Symphony no 7 in E major, WAB 107
  • Conductor: Klaus Tennstedt
  • Ensemble: Boston Symphony Orchestra
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1881-1883