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  #31  
Old 17-07-17, 06:38 AM
Todd A Todd A is offline
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Kim's Third and Fifth. The Third opens with a bracing Allegro moderato where Kim adopts a, well, a moderate tempo and still generates quite a bit of heft. The Andantino is well played, with winds getting their due, but something feels off. It leaves me cold, though it's by no means bad. The final movement starts off light, with just-right tempo choices, and, again, the winds get their due (I especially dig the flute here). Kim keeps things relatively light until the chorale, where tension and scale build up, but he keeps things reined in. Early impressions here may not end up being my long-term outlook. There are some things I'm not wild about, at least usually, but more than with many recordings, this seems to be one to live with for a while.

The opening movement to the Fifth sounds both grand in scale and somewhat severe at times before the tutti arrives, where hints of heroism emerge. (And am I the only one who hears hints of Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune early on in the movement?) Kim then scales back appropriately, keeping things taut until the thundering coda. The second movement is ever so slightly quick overall, with ample forward momentum married to lightness. The Allegro opens very swiftly, but the horns sound like awfully scrawny swans at first. Fortunately, the strings do their thing, and the return of the swan-call has more blat, and the coda, though somewhat abrupt, sounds excellent.
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  #32  
Old 19-07-17, 07:10 AM
Todd A Todd A is offline
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The Ninth. Lim's rendition comes in at around fifty-six minutes, so again in the realm of conventional timings. The opening movement is ever so slightly quick and tense, and though not as fierce as some other versions, there's more bite than in some prior symphonies in this cycle. The playing also sounds more ethereal while also sounding a bit detached, which works well. The Scherzo has plenty of drive and power and weight, and a sense of intensity approaching fearsomeness, in the outer sections, and the middle section is uncommonly light and dance-like, and the less than fully clear recording (by SOTA standards) combines with the playing to create a nice blurred effect. The Adagio sounds both beautiful and just a bit intense. Lim can choose to play with great beauty, as he showed in previous symphonies, but that clearly is not what he wanted here. And once again, while the symphony is not as dominated by brass as other readings, Lim uses them well, and he creates some nice effects when he brings them more into the mix. Lim brings the orchestra to a massive, nearly fearsome - heck, almost apocalyptic a la Furtwangler - climax at just after eighteen minutes and then allows for a lengthy pause to let the effect settle in. The coda is lovely and just a bit tense to start, then it becomes gentler and more serene until fading away. Lim himself seems to be even more engaged in this symphony than some preceding ones based on more frequent vocalizing, and this engagement shows in one of the best performances of the cycle. Given the editions Lim uses for some symphonies, and the comparatively brass-light sound, and somewhat smaller apparent scale of the playing, I can't say that this is one if the great Bruckner cycles. But, with that written, the excellent playing, the string-heavy sound, the sometimes detached approach, and the sometimes uncommon and almost unreal aural beauty on offer results in a unique cycle that more than ended up justifying the purchase for me. I will definitely be revisiting the whole thing, probably starting with the Fifth.

Jochum's sixty minute version starts off more or less as expected: dark, mysterious, more brass heavy, large scaled. While slightly swifter than Lim's in timing, the pacing nonetheless sounds more relaxed, the tension less pronounced in the early going, the music deeper. And the low string pizzicati are pretty sweet. As the movement progresses, Jochum generates apocalyptic music to rival Furtwangler, with the immense benefit of good sound. The Scherzo, only a bit quicker than Lim, generates more intensity in the outer sections, and the trio very much meets it "schnell" designation. The Adagio is simply marvelous. Notably slower than Lim's, it sounds quicker and basically pulls off a Celi by making time irrelevant. While lovely at times, this is no tender and gentle reading for the most part; it is simultaneously transcendent and despondent, and while Lim was no slouch when it comes to transitions, Jochum's sound perfect and seamless. And he leads a blistering climax that I've not heard bettered. The coda is gentler, lovelier, and radiant. This is one of the great Bruckner Ninths. Overall, Jochum's cycle is better than Lim's and would make for a good introduction to the works, though I think Wand's is still probably better for that type of role. Jochum's cycle is more uneven than Lim's but that just means that it ranges from excellent to truly great. I'm perfectly glad to have both.
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  #33  
Old 24-07-17, 07:50 AM
Todd A Todd A is offline
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Kim's Fifth. For this recording, A/B duties fell to Christoph Eschenbach and the Philadelphia Orchestra, who got first listen. I've long enjoyed this recording for the beautiful strings and the superb sound. Eschenbach's tempi are quite leisurely overall, but he knows how to make it sound very nice. No longueurs here, with masterful pacing and transitions and satisfyingly powerful climaxes, and the Andante cantabile is seductively gorgeous. Eschenbach's reading is very much of the romantic variety.

In contrast, Kim takes the work much faster. In the outer movements, he's faster than Mravinsky. As one might expect with such zippy tempi, the playing is more intense and more classically proportioned, like Mravinsky, though not quite at that level. He and his Suwon band crank right through the opening movement and generate some heat and a sense of tragedy without overdoing it. The Andante likewise conveys a tragic feel without overdoing it. It's emotional playing, but not full heart-on-sleeve playing, and the climax is nicely weight and urgent. The third movement is swift and at times bracing, as is the Finale, which scales up the drama in climaxes even more. It offers a most entertaining contrast with Eschenbach.

Sound for the recording is like the prior discs in the cycle.
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