MUSIC / LSO / Solti - Barbican Centre, London

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The Independent Culture
A hundred years to the day after its Viennese premiere, Bruckner's Eighth Symphony received a marvellous commemorative performance at the Barbican Centre last Friday. It was also conductor Sir Georg Solti's 80th birthday, and the air of twofold celebration was strikingly focused by the power and concentration of the London Symphony Orchestra's playing.

Sir Georg, noted for the passionate onset of his interpretations, did not allow his urgent sense of the symphony's tonal architecture to degenerate into impatience with Bruckner's timeless processes and the symphony's great spaces breathed with majestic calm.

Indeed, his was an interpretation where tempos were judged to a nicety, yielding massiveness without longeurs. Nowhere was this more impressive than in the mighty Adagio, which no incidental intensities or moments of orchestral magic can save if the initial tempo drags. The orchestra created a sonority of great splendour and solemnity, and this was harnessed to a perfect unfolding of Bruckner's grand design.

As much could be said of the whole performance and when the final coda arrived, on time to the very second and buttressed by the heroes of the LSO's extended brass section, the sense of achievement was overwhelming.

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