Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach, Anton Bruckner
Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Klaus Tennstedt
Number of Discs: 2
Format: APE (image+cue)
Size: 551 MB
01. Concerto for violin, strings & continuo No. 2 in E major, BWV 1042: 1. Allegro
02. Concerto for violin, strings & continuo No. 2 in E major, BWV 1042: 2. Adagio
03. Concerto for violin, strings & continuo No. 2 in E major, BWV 1042: 3. Allegro assai
01. Symphony No. 8 in C minor, WAB 108: 1. Allegro moderato
02. Symphony No. 8 in C minor, WAB 108: 2. Scherzo: Allegro moderato & Trio: Langsam
03. Symphony No. 8 in C minor, WAB 108: 3. Adagio – Feierlich langsam, doch nicht schleppend
04. Symphony No. 8 in C minor, WAB 108: 4. Finale: Feierlich, nicht schnell
Tennstedt achieves something great in the Bruckner Eighth
Tennstedt’s live recordings have turned into a valuable legacy of a great conductor who, like Furtwnagler, tended to present an entirely different face in the concert hall than in the studio. In this series by Testament of Tennstedt in Berlin there’s a Bruckner Fourth that is matched by EMI’s studio recording from the same time frame, and anyone who wants to can listen to both — the live reading is two notches more spontaneous and exciting. For this Bruckner Eighth from Nov. 1981 there is no studio equivalent form Berlin (EMI turned to the London Phil, Tennstedt’s home orchestra, and thee is also a second live recording on the LPO’s house label).
I think that in the future Bruckner devotees will be tracking down every Tennstedt recording; his readings are as valuable to gather and compare as Furtwangler’s. It needs to be remembered that Tennstedt went from total obscurity on this side of the Atlantic to overnight fame due to a Bruckner concert in Boston. This Eigth shows why. It is riveting from beginning to end, fully charged with passion form the first note, testifying to the unique urgency that is the hallmark of Tennstedt at is best. There is enormous variety of mood, and to pay the highest compliment of all, the conductor takes highly abstract music and finds deeply moving emotions in it — Tennstedt, like Furtwangler, had this rare gift to an ultimate degree. The Adagio, one of the summas of Bruckner’s writing, is heartbreaking, but the finale is the movement where Tennstedt excels quite phenomenally, arousing a cosmic sense of awe and dread.
Testament makes it expensive to obtain this great eighth because their policy has been to release the whole concert. CD 1 is stingily filled with an old-fashioned but spirited reading of the Bach Violin cto. no. 1, the soloist being the BPO concertmaster Thomas Brandis. He achieved that position at the age of 26, and one easily hears why in his impeccable, stylish reading. I am fond of old-fashioned Bach, and given the musicality of both conductor and soloist, this is by no means a throwaway reading.
Yet it’s the Bruckner that is the main event, and for anyone who wants to hear why Tennstedt is considered a master in Bruckner, there is no better place to start than here. The sound is good Fm broadcast stereo, although it has to be turned up in order to give the rather distant brass section more presence.