Bruckner Symphony No. 7 in E Major

Berlin Philharmonic - 1949

For me, this is simply the finest performance of this work. Listen to the simplicity of phrasing of the opening theme: a world apart from the romanticized versions one hears these days. Yet, in that simplicity there is such deep expression and nobility! Then listen to the return of the theme at the beginning of the recapitulation. The atmosphere is magical, acquiring extraordinary strength and drama as it unfolds. And then there is the coda. Never have I heard such glory expressed in this music, surely among Bruckner's finest moments. Of course, there is no ritard at the end.

As expected, the Adagio unfolds naturally, with the second theme not being rushed as often happens. The climax is devastating. As usual with Furtwängler's Bruckner, the Scherzo is magnificently wild and uncivilized, moving at a fairly fast tempo which ads to the demonic character of this movement. The last movement is always a problem with this symphony. If it is played too slowly, it can become pompous and lose its direction, which is not easy to find in any case. Furtwängler finds the perfect tempos throughout, moving along when it is necessary to give the movement energy, and slowing down when the music calls for it. But, of course, Furtwängler always does this so well.

This is a far more persuasive and natural interpretation than the ones from Rome and Egypt. If someone thinks there is a better Bruckner Seventh, I would like to hear it.

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