Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 [Welser-Möst/Cleveland Orchestra] Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080i/60
- Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 Stereo; DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: English, German
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Arthaus Musik
- Blu-ray Release Date: October 25, 2011
- List Price: $39.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Anton Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, possibly his most popular symphony, can be appreciated as a memorial to his mentor and idol, Richard Wagner who died before its completion. The Wagnerian influence is unmistakeable in nearly all of the Bruckner oeuvre, characterized by flowing melodies, heavy use of brass chorales, and lengthy expositions. This particular work is in classic four movement form, with the second or Adagio being its heart and soul.
This performance by the Cleveland Orchestra, under music director Franz Welser-Möst, stems from a 2008 “high definition” film for broadcast. It was presented at Cleveland’s legendary Severance Hall, a marvelous gilded shrine to music. The orchestra has a long Brucknerian tradition, most notably under its long-time legendary director, George Szell. Welser-Möst has had a somewhat controversial tenure, although he has been extended through the 2018 season, the orchestra’s centenary. Visually and sonically, this is an impressive Blu-ray in most respects with some reservations as noted later.
As with previous Cleveland Orchestra broadcast Blu-rays, this is a filmed presentation. Generally it features good detail and color. However, as a film, there is recurrent artifact with rapid hand or body motion. This intrudes only on occasion, but given the plethora of fabulous HD Blu-rays from European venues, I am puzzled why this presentation approach was taken. In addition, there are episodic cutaways to the hall’s various gilt decorations, something I also noted in previous Cleveland videos of the same provenance. Fortunately, these occur to a lesser degree than in the past. Detail and color are both good but not at the current state of the art.
A somewhat distant perspective is presented, akin to back of the middle orchestra seating. Fortunately, Welser-Möst enables a good bit of the orchestral inner voices to be heard. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack features modest ambience.
There are no additional materials offered.
The Definitive Word
Bruckner symphonies are long, most lasting in 80 to 90 minute range. There is an inherent risk in performance of letting the pace droop and the pulse ebb away. For the most part, this rendition avoids this pitfall, with the exception of the Adagio which would, by Bruckner’s own hand, have benefited from better editing. There are also numerous editions of this work which differ, some more than slightly from the original in tempi and instrumental assignments. It is not specified on this disc which was chosen. Overall, this is a satisfactory if not memorable reading of this symphony that certainly does not put out of mind any of the eight that I have in my audio collection. As it is the sole BD version, prospective buyers are faced with a Hobson’s choice, either get it now, or hope that another one will appear sometime in the uncertain future. I would be more enthusiastic were it free from the above-noted motion artifacts since sonically it fits the bill.
Additional Screen Captures