Bruckner’s last fully completed work, Symphony No. 8, displays extraordinary force, as if, in an epic gesture of testamentary synthesis, the composer sought to write not his final opus but the ultimate symphony.
A monumental musical fresco, Symphony No. 8 is the fruit of three years of intense labour. A multi-tentacled piece, which the composer repeatedly reworked, it can be seen as both the crowning glory and the setting sun of the romantic symphony era. A whole lineage, including Beethoven and Schubert, draws to a close in this ambitious score. As always with the deeply devout Bruckner, it is a work of profound metaphysical inquiry, sometimes called his ‘symphony of fate’. One hardly knows what to admire more in this remarkable opus: the thematic richness and structural rigour of the opening Allegro, the visions of magical and mysterious nature in the striking Scherzo, or the majesty of the great Adagio, steeped in the sacred solemnity of the chorale... And then the Finale, the apogee of Bruckner’s oeuvre: a stunning arc encapsulating the essence of an entire career in a paroxysm of expressiveness and orchestral power.