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David Denton
David's Review Corner, August 2016

Released to mark the 50th anniversary of Herbert Blomstedt’s first concert with the Danish National Symphony Orchestra, and his Léonie Sonning Music Prize award. It was with that orchestra he introduced Danish audiences to the music of Mahler and Bruckner, and in so doing established his own credentials as an important and influential conductor of Bruckner’s symphonies. He is American by birth but Swedish by parentage, and it has been in northern Europe that he has created much of his career, including ten years with the Danish orchestra as their first chief conductor. To that point it had worked with a succession of guest conductors, and during his residency it took its place among the great orchestras of the world. The present DVD is taken from a 2007 concert in Roskilde Cathedral at the time of his Eightieth birthday, and featured Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, his unhurried approach allowing the music ample time to savour the warmth of the cathedral acoustic. It would appear that the filming was limited to three cameras, so that for much of the time we watch Blomstedt demonstrating how economic gestures can draw so much from an orchestra. It equally shows how to achieve a seamless flow through these long movements, changes of tempo established in body gestures before they occur. The orchestra, with a robust brass sound and mellifluous woodwind, were in fine form, though sadly the microphone set to capture the timpani does not seem to have been working, so that his contribution is visual rather than audible. The unusual element in the release is an apparent Danish belief that the symphony we have long know as Schubert’s Eighth—the ‘Unfinished’—was, in fact, his Seventh. Blomsted’s interpretation, as the opening work of the concert, is most welcome in his spacious reading. There is a brief interview with him prior to the concert as an added bonus track. © 2016 David’s Review Corner

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