A very common reading of poor Anton Bruckner's music -- probably due to the zillion quotes re: his deep religious faith and his music's supposed relationship with the Almighty, blah blah blah -- is that his symphonies are supposed to have an essentially mystical, soothing, church music quality -- when he is, in fact, a deeply unsettling, scarily apocalyptic composer (cue Eugen Jochum's reading of the complete symphonies, the one on EMI not the one on DG, the former will really change your perception of what Bruckner is all about). This is not to diss the great conductors who -- the great Carlo Maria Giulini comes to mind -- chose the otherworldly path when conducting Bruckner. But there's so much more to Bruckner than that.
Case in question: a conductor not immediately associated (to say the least) with Bruckner: Riccardo Muti. Viennese critics today go ga-ga over Muti's Brucknerian tour de force this past weekend (another show tonight, download programs on .pdf here) at the Musikverein where the Italian maestro has been showing off the Wiener in an apparently incandescent reading of, of all things, Bruckner's wonderful, underrated (among the big boys on the podium it seems to be all about the 6, 7, 8 and 9: boring!) Second Symphony.
According to Der Standard "Riccardo Muti enhanced the Philharmoniker's brilliance once again in Bruckner's Second, managing to make it so fast and clear as to remind one of Rossini... with a finale as operatic as if he were still in charge of la Scala"
The Kurier writes about the "triumph", "maximum perfection" and "absolute precision and passion" in the reading. Wiener Oesterreich raves the "marvelous phrasing" as if Bruckner had been born in Ravenna, where Muti lives.