SJB 1090-91


SJB 1090-1091
Bruckner Symphony No. 8, Delius In a Summer Garden and Sibelius’ 5th Symphony. These recordings with the Hallé Orchestra are taken from the Free Trade Hall (Bruckner 8th) and a concert given in the Grieghallen, Bergen, Norway.

The most truly astonishing aspect of the recording of the Bruckner is that this performance was the first time in Barbirolli’s career that he had conducted the Symphony. Here, demonstrably, as Robert Matthew –Walker says in his notes accompanying this issue, we can experience his interpretative genius at its finest.

For too often, Delius’s music was criticised for its ‘rhapsodic’ utterance or ‘shapeless’ form – but what, in fact, do those critical terms mean? As with all great original composers, Delius’s music ‘shapes’ itself, and although such innovations as his works contain demand much in the way of interpretative understanding, once that has been mastered by a sympathetic conductor, the result can indeed be revelatory.

Such, one may assert, is the case here. Barbirolli’s shaping of the phrases and paragraphs which go to make up this wonderful orchestral essay is as masterly as his control of the far larger structures in Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony; the continuous ‘thread’ the music possesses is never broken, with the attentive listener carried by Delius’s unique sound-world to the music’s full understanding.

Such similarities may also be discerned in Sibelius’s Fifth Symphony: a structure so completely original in twentieth-century orchestral music as to continue to astonish the listener – but only when the performance demonstrates those qualities fully.
In this performance, Barbirolli achieves a wondrous combination of life and cogency such as one rarely hears.