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Jeffrey J. Lipscomb
Fanfare, May 2011

In Fanfare 31:5, I compared a subpar live Eighth (in the Arthaus DVD set titled Kent Nagano Conducts Classical Masterpieces) to DVD alternatives by Celibidache (Encore), Karajan (Sony), and this one by Boulez. Regarding the latter, I noted, “Boulez is the pleasant surprise here. For me, most Boulez readings generate more light than heat, but his Bruckner is warmly expressive and has even finer playing than Karajan’s.” I went on to say, “What a refreshing difference to switch to the Boulez DVD and its magnificent visuals by Brian Large. Shot inside Saint Florian, the church where Bruckner was laid to rest, the camerawork is subtle and provides rich commentary on the music (e.g., the end of the Eighth’s first movement, called by Bruckner a ‘Death Watch,’ is juxtaposed with a shot of the eerie Wall of Skulls opposite the composer’s crypt”). This Euroarts reissue is the same as the original DVD (timings: 15:16 / 13:58 / 25:17 / 22:04 = 77:00), but now there is also a brief documentary (29:33)…Boulez and the Vienna Philharmonic deliver a first-rate account of the Eighth that, to my eyes and ears, is arguably the finest filmed performance of any Bruckner symphony issued in the DVD medium. It’s enthusiastically recommended.

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5:15:03 PM, 9 October 2015
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