, June 2000
To record the complete Bruckner symphonies is a major undertaking, not to be taken lightly by any of those involved: conductor, orchestra, recording engineers, record company. Therefore it needs to be said at the outset that Naxos has achieved a triumph, nothing less. The only tragedy is that the conductor, Georg Tintner, is no longer alive to witness its full acknowledgement.
Tintner (born 1917), like so many musicians, fled his native Austria before the Nazi threat and made a worthwhile but largely unnoticed career in Australasia, Canada and, occasionally, Europe. These recordings, dating from 1995-98, brought him a recognition that was long overdue. For Tintner’s love and understanding of Bruckner are beyond question. Tempi, phrasing and architecture always feel right, and the structural control of each of the symphonies is never less than assured.
The Seventh Symphony contains one of the most straightforward authenticity issues in Bruckner. Should there or should there not be a cymbal clash at the climax of the slow moment? Opinions vary, the evidence is far from clear-cut, and the music is strong enough to triumphantly accommodate either approach. Tintner leaves it out, opting instead for full sonority which the orchestra and the Naxos engineers support to the full. The pacing and phrasing of the whole performance is quite splendid, and even among the other fine performances this rates as extra special. The way that the beautifully lyrical opening phase of the symphony is phrased and balanced confirms that a master is at work. Even those who own alternative excellent performances—and this symphony is well served on disc—should add Tintner to their collections.