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Bruckner Mass No. 3, for soloists, chorus, orchestra & organ in F minor ("Great"),

Romanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache's attitude toward recordings of music was the polar opposite of Glenn Gould's: he found them to be dangerous distortions that could never recapture the holistic experience of the live concert hall. Since his death in 1996, Celibidache's heirs have nevertheless decided to combat the proliferation of dubious pirate discs with an authorized edition on EMI. This recording is from the series's second volume, which illustrates the conductor's particularly deep, lifelong affinity for the music of Anton Bruckner and draws from concerts he gave with the Munich Philharmonic in the '80s and '90s (one of the most probing and incandescent is Celibidache's account of the Ninth Symphony).
Bruckner was once described as a "God-intoxicated man." His large-scale, symphonically rich Mass in F Minor (first performed in 1872 and later revised several times) is a statement of faith that is at once humble and resonant with the assurance of inner peace. Celibidache's broad tempi allow the music to build from within and show a command of the special breath that is unique to Bruckner. The result often seems to step outside the ordinary experience of time, with a sense of spaciousness that conveys both the austerity and mystery of a Romanesque basilica. Grandly massed passages of fugal momentum are shaped with a granitic beauty, while the ecstatic figurations of the Et incarnatus est (its solo violin and viola accompaniment reminiscent of the Benedictus from Beethoven's Missa Solemnis) seem to float like incense. Even in the most sonorous climaxes, Celibidache maintains a sensitive transparency of choral and orchestral textures. Whatever the current vogue for New Age "spiritual" music, this inspired performance confirms how truly transporting Bruckner's aesthetic vision remains.

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  • Seller location: Lower Hutt City, Wellington, NZ

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