Marc Albrecht continues exploring the corpus of Bruckner’s symphonies together with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra: after the Fourth, Sixth, Seventh and Eight symphonies it is now time for the Fifth, one of the greatest Bruckner’s achievements and undoubtedly his more elusive and enigmatic symphony. Rarely recorded outside complete cycles and probably even less performed in the concert hall, it has received a magnificent rendering by an inspired Marc Albrecht and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra in top form: it was enough to listen to how the pizzicato of cello and basses, which opens the slow introduction, emerged from silence and how it set to mention the first movement to realize that it was going to be a concert to be remembered.
We have always admired Albrecht’s capacity of dealing with complex scores outlining details without losing the grasp on the overall structure, and this symphony, with its incredibly complex contrapuntist texture, was a perfect benchmark for the conductor’s ability. Albrecht opted for an extremely lyrical reading, which seems to be the fil rouge of his approach to Bruckner, shedding an Olympic serenity even on the brassiest moment: the four movements flowed seamlessly with perfect balance among the tempos, calm but not relaxed, with a well calibrated building of the tension, especially in the last movement, where the many climaxes perfectly shaped. The Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra played superbly and the brass section shone in the final chorale.
Review of the concert of Monday 7 November 2016 in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw
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