- Symphony No. 7 in E major (Lyric), WAB 107
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Austrian composer Anton Bruckner was a devout Catholic, and his gargantuan symphonies are like cathedrals -- spacious, majestic, and suffused with light that glows like sunshine filtered through stained glass. The Seventh is the most lyrical of Bruckner's later symphonies. It opens with an ecstatic theme in the cellos that ascends slowly heavenward, like a vaulting Gothic archway. While Bruckner's symphonies unfold at a leisurely pace, they are spectacular, rewarding patient listening with a wealth of rapturous details. Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan was a devout Brucknerian who knew his way around this composer's unusually massive architecture better than most maestros. He recorded the Seventh Symphony at least three times, and this is the last -- in fact, it's the last recording Karajan completed before his death in 1989.