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Bruckner: Symphony No. 7 (Tonhalle/P Järvi)

Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich/Paavo Järvi (Alpha Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Symphony No. 7
Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich/Paavo Järvi
Alpha Classics ALPHA932   64:54 mins


Paavo Järvi first recorded Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony in 2006, when he was principal conductor of the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. This re-make is with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, where Järvi’s contract as chief conductor has just been extended to 2029.

Their partnership yields a noble, yearning account of the Seventh’s opening paragraph, the Tonhalle’s lean string textures a major asset in highlighting the contrapuntal subtleties of Bruckner’s writing. Rhythmically Paavo Järvi’s Bruckner is the opposite of portentous, tripping with a Schubertian gait though the first movement development section. Nor are dynamics overplayed – the brass-capped upheaval at the movement’s centre makes its weighty point without sounding apocalyptic, and the coda’s big crescendo is superbly managed.

Careful dynamic distinctions are again at the heart of the Adagio, Järvi’s scrupulous approach occasionally verging on micromanagement. But nothing extraneous is imposed on the music, and it builds to a satisfyingly resplendent climax, Järvi retaining the textually contested cymbal clash. The Wagner tuba coda does not, perhaps, have the heavy weight of tragedy communicated by some versions, though its honesty of feeling is undoubted. Järvi’s Scherzo has a lithe athleticism which quickly refocuses attention from the inwardness of the Adagio, and the finale is convincingly upbeat without seeming at any point glib.

Interpretively Järvi’s Seventh recalls the plain-speaking eloquence of Günter Wand, and it is excellently played and recorded. Those who like their Bruckner with a heavy layering of philosophical significance may ultimately find Järvi wanting. But his tenderness and humanity are strong compensation.


Terry Blain