- Symphony No. 7 in E major, WAB 107
Under Zubin Mehta's leadership, the Israel Philharmonic has taken to heart the music of Anton Bruckner, which it grasps intellectually and emotionally, even when unprepared to perform brilliantly. This live 2012 recording on Helicon of the "Symphony No. 7 in E major" clearly shows intensity of feeling and commitment, no doubt inspired by Mehta's strong advocacy for this composer, but demands a long Bruckner symphony can make on an orchestra's precision and control seem to tax it to some extent. Allowing for looser playing in a concert setting, the orchestra holds together rather well in the first movement, but becomes increasingly sketchy from late in the Adagio onward, with some scrappiness in the strings and some loss of coordination between them and the woodwinds. Tempos are a little slippery, which may account for some slight adjustments along the way that don't seem like planned rubato, and the pacing depends too much on the emotion of the moment, rather than on the overall structure. Highest marks go to the quartet of Wagner tubas, which displays the tightest ensemble and the warmest sound, no doubt as a point of pride. But the long-term experience of playing Bruckner's symphonies and the feeling of having a tradition that instills confidence and cohesion is lacking, and it will take the Israel Philharmonic more time to develop its own approach before it can be regarded as a world-class Bruckner orchestra.