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I'll be controversial here and plump for Tintner because he records an original version of the symphony which at once makes the who thing a bit fresher with new ideas missing from the normally played revisions. I've always thought the finale of this piece is slightly unsatisfactory compared to the tight and compelling first movement and it's never been among my top favourites although all the Bruckner symphonies -- at least from no. 2 onwards, are great. A few years ago, a Japanese friend introduced me to Takashi Asahina and several of his versions -- including no. 5 and 8 if I remember correctly certainly knocked me out. A crying shame that they were never for sale in the West.
 

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Many here have expressed their preference for the BPO Karajan 8 over the WPO recording, so I'll go against the grain and say that the WPO recording may be one of the best things Karajan ever did and that the BPO version, while still excellent, doesn't entirely compare in my eyes.

Yes, the BPO version is a bit faster and has more aggression and forward momentum, that much is certain. But the WPO recording seems to not just be more capable of subtlety and restraint in many of the quieter sections of the music; it's definitely not more relaxed, because there is still a certain intensity throughout and in climaxes that the BPO recording seems to be slightly more loose about. The shaping of crescendos also seems more mature and refined with the WPO recording, like a less-is-more approach to exactly how the orchestra grows in intensity and volume. I also think the sound palette of the WPO is more suited for this work; the Vienna strings and horns just sound right for late Bruckner, which is probably why all my favorite recordings of the 7th, 8th and 9th all feature the WPO. Regardless, both are awesome recordings and Karajan was undeniably a true maestro with this symphony.
 

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Listening for the very first time ever to this symphony and to any Bruckner symphony ever. It was late so I just decided to blindly follow trout’s list (normally I use at least 3 sources and then decide which recording I’m going to use as reference) and I’m now halfway in the finale of Karajan’s 1988 vienna recording. I definitely don’t dislike it but I’m also not blown away. But I know this is normal and most of my favourite pieces of music I’ve had to listen at least twice to before loving them. I can already say after listening once that the opening of the first and last movements are awesome. Not that impressed by the coda of the first movement. Seemed to repeat one brass note for a minute and then it ends with pizzicato if I remember correctly? In 7 minutes we’ll see how the coda of the finale is
 

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Btw I read the first 8 pages of this thread and once I know this work enough to sample different recordings and compare them I’ll be very interested to hear Furtwangler 1944. Regarding tempi, I’m totally fine with extremely flexible tempi, as long as they are judged well for each section. One good example is Furtwängler’s 1949 Brahms 4 performance. Tempi, especially in the last movement are very flexible and they change with almost every variation. But they are judged so well for every individual variation so that it works very well. After hearing this, I had trouble returning to Kleiber, because I just wanted him to speed up sometimes and it’s very frustrating. Unfortunately the 1949 Wiesbaden isn’t on Spotify
 

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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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The Furtwängler remastered 1949 on Audite is still a disaster. The audience sound like they‘re collectively dying of emphysema. Unlistenable…
 
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The Furtwängler remastered 1949 on Audite is still a disaster. The audience sound like they‘re collectively dying of emphysema. Unlistenable…
I still like the 1944 VPO Furtwängler the best, but if you want better sound I’m a strong advocate of the 1954 VPO on Orfeo. Both recordings are in the Orfeo boxset of Furtwängler live VPO recordings.
 

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Bernd Alois Zimmermann
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I still like the 1944 VPO Furtwängler the best, but if you want better sound I’m a strong advocate of the 1954 VPO on Orfeo. Both recordings are in the Orfeo boxset of Furtwängler live VPO recordings.
I adore the 1944 version. ‘twas my first time hearing Bruckner, having bought the Unicorn LP (which I still have) as a teenager. Snap, crackle and pop is much more tolerable on vinyl than noise cancelling headphones…
 

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I don't really "get" Bruckner's 8th, the "Apocalyptic". I heard the Klemperer recording and really liked it, but I think it's a non-starter for many because it apparently contains cuts, non-canonical cuts at that. I want to hear the Karajan/Vienna. I have a question about that recording...:



... how is it possible that this is on a single disc at over 83 minutes long?! I thought they capped out right at 80 or 81.
I have this recording and it is on two discs. Still IMO the best recording of this symphony.
 

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I just finished up Musical Directing a production of Rent, based loosely on La Boheme.

Technically, and musically, it is a Rock Operetta, and the singing styles are only a smidge out of my comfort zone. But as a modern musical, there is a lot of contemporary dance that many of the performers had to manage WHILE they are singing.

Our Mimi (AND her understudy) would both get out of breath by the time they were nearing the end of "Out Tonight". Other performers were likewise gasping for air during a few songs.

We had to suggest they practice their songs on a treadmill.

 

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To me, the greatest Bruckner 8th is Schuricht/VPO. The polar opposite of all those slow, turgid and stolid "cathedral sound" versions out there. It's got a great natural flow, fast but never hurried.
Barbirolli's live Hallé recording (1970) has an even more intense and imposing first movement, but the rest of the performance isn't fully convincing (lapses of concentration and just too many screwups in the orchestra). But that first movement sounds like the gates of hell opening, it's THAT terrifying.
 

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We all hear music differently. For me the grand cathedral-like versions are what bring the music home. Bohm/VPO is a great example. Schuricht leaves me cold. I feel short-changed.
 
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