SYMPHONY NO.7 Import
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I: 15'08 +II: 19'09 +III: 9'02 +IV: 11'17 = Total Time 55'11
録音:2008年9月27&28日 シュトゥットガルト・リーダーハレ、ベートーヴェンザール( ライヴ)
Bruckner seemed to think so too. According to scholar Benjamin Gunnar-Cohrs, Bruckner was an advocate of the "tactus principle," an antique theory stipulating that tempi within a piece of music should be related in some way, usually by simple mathematical ratios (1:1, 1:2, 2:3, etc.). By this logic, stretching the first movement out to an Andante molto sostenuto and then taking the finale at a brisk Vivace clip to compensate for our wasted time and attention is just as wrong as it would be to change the key to B-flat minor.
So why is all this important? Well, critics and listeners used to hearing 22 minute first movements will no doubt crucify Norrington for his speed ("How dare he accept Bruckner's instructions at face value! Bruckner would be horrified!"). But he is simply bringing the tempo back in line with what we would also expect for the last movement, and indeed they are almost equal. So when you read "We use the latest tempo information" in the liner notes, this is what Norrington is talking about.
Some more of Gunnar-Cohrs's theories include a unified tempo for all three themes of each outer movement, and a tempo of about 60 alla breve, at least for the first movement (this seems ideal to me when I hum it to myself). Norrington takes the first of these to heart, and although he is slightly faster than 60, he's certainly closer than almost every conductor that floats around on the slower side of the spectrum. This has mixed results, in my opinion. Much of the music becomes very grounded (in reality, that is), and with Norrington's ban on vibrato the orchestra takes on the qualities of a large choir, something I'm certain Bruckner had in mind. This is his "lyric" symphony, after all. On the other hand, there are other sections in the first movement that just sound too hasty and could have benefited from a little more breadth of articulation. Conversely, the dotted rhythms of the last movement seem rather slack, and Norrington misses out on both the playful and martial qualities of those sections.
I think the Adagio is the highlight of this performance. Norrington allows much more rubato and has a surer hand in orchestral control. The color he gets from the wagner tubas is honestly the best I have heard, and again, the lack of vibrato comes in handy as it allows them to mix better with the strings, which take on a tragic, old world quality that was equally as moving in Norrington's Tchaikovsky 6 recording. Norrington's faster take on the Moderato sections provides a much needed balance and contrast to the adagio portions that is often missing from other recordings. His control of the final big crescendo is rock solid and nothing short of incredible. The Haas edition seems to bring out something special in performances. The players and conductor all seem to concentrate harder when they know there will be no percussion to swoop in and save the day. (Although I prefer the Nowak edition, I am consistently unsatisfied with the results it produces, and the effect the Haas edition has on performers is justification enough for its continued use). The overall timing is quite fast if you compare it to abominations from the likes of Celibidache or Barenboim, but I don't feel short-changed in the slightest, and certainly the differences between this and the average speeds are much less striking than those of the first movement.
There's not much to say about the scherzo. Norrington's take is again on the fast side, but not to an extreme as one might expect. It is certainly leaner and more muscular than most, but you can do one better for this movement with Harnoncourt's recording, in which the Vienna Philharmonic adds a mercurial gracefulness to the music that Stuttgart or any other orchestra can't touch.
Norrington has always had more of a cult following and less of a mainstream appreciation, so it is a pity that most of his recordings - of the late romantic repertoire in particular - will go largely unnoticed. Unlike his recordings of Beethoven and other classicists, his Bruckner recordings contain a lot of ideas that won't catch on for quite a while, or perhaps ever. For this reason alone, you should snag this recording while it's hot. If you're looking for something a little less avant garde, the Harnoncourt recording I mentioned above (also Haas ed.) is more in line with traditional interpretations, but without too much exaggeration. These two recordings, along with Herreweghe's on actual period instruments, comprise the three recordings that I haven't wanted to toss out the window at one point or another. Among these, Norrington's is the only one to completely eschew the century of dogma that has built up concerning the breadth of the first movement and tempi in general, so he gets the lion's share of my praise.
If you want your Bruckner to be spiritually emasculated and devoid of 'Real Presence', this disc and its siblings are for you. Bruckner as anti-Bruckner. And hurray for microwave dinners!
The front cover says it all. Look into his eyes. Lunacy is regnant. In his own way, Norrington has been transformed into Colonel Kurtz; now he makes these madcap Bruckner transmissions from his Inner Station. Like Captain Willard, I cannot see method, only madness. You can abet his loony iconoclasm or say no: it ends here.
And for the sake of the argument, the wide majority of respectable Bruckner performances have around 19 and 1/2 minute first movements. Karajan went beyond 20 once on EMI. Even the plug Barenboim didn't go 22 in Berlin. However, all of this ignores the fact that speed alone doesn't make music satisfying, a common truism to which the worst HIP enthusiasts have no answers, other than to reply that Norrington "has ideas." It's of course a hopelessly ambiguous reply, unless 'ideas' means trimming and cutting everything wherever possible, to the greatest extent possible without the music sounding like something better suited for a child's merry-go-round. This Adagio? It's made for a pet cemetery.
As with Norrington's other Bruckner performances on this label, the orchestra's brass is grossly over-milked relative to the other instruments, which I think is a deliberate attempt to compensate for the utter gutlessness of the orchestra and Norrington's vendetta whenever the music calls for real strength. This gesture concedes that the English dolt's historiography is a sham and he is doing something he's not supposed to be doing simply for the sake of disobeying, dressed in pseudo-scientific academic shibboleths compromised by the internal contradictions of traditional rationality, as evinced by the lead reviewer.
Mike G. hasn't posted a review since 2010. Hopefully he croaked.