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CD Review

Anton Bruckner

Symphony #7 in E Major

Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra/Jesús López-Cobos
Telarc CD-80188
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While none of the Bruckner discs that Jesús López-Cobos made for Telarc constitute top recommendations, I've written elsewhere in this month's update about how the conductor and his orchestra were a victim of the times they worked in. After all, Jesús López-Cobos has always been underrated, and this Cincinnati team almost never got the recognition they deserved, even after Paavo Järvi came along and cranked out award-winning albums like they were candy. This Seventh from 1989 is very good, featuring excellent ensemble work and quality sound despite a rather low-level starting point.

No, López-Cobos doesn't displace Karajan or Jochum in this music, but he certainly has a clearer grasp of it than does Mariss Jansons, to name only one conductor who fails to make Bruckner interesting these days. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra has a standout brass section that would later star in excellent versions of Mahler's Third and Ninth. The low strings are also impressive here, especially in this beautifully shaped Adagio. Jesús López-Cobos doesn't exactly plumb the depths of the composer's drama, but he also refuses to rush or impose wacky ideas on the music. This is middle-of-the-road Bruckner, deeply felt without being especially revelatory.

This may sound unenthusiastic, but I mean to be very positive. Such is the glut of Bruckner recordings today that it's a shame so few are any good. Telarc was always adventurous, and these fine readings deserve to be better known. The liner notes are unusually detailed, and the whole project is worth your time. As mentioned, turn up the sound to hear a rich, full sound. This is another pleasant surprise from one of the true musical gems of the Midwestern United States.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman