Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bruckner, Anton. (1824-1896) Symphony No. 6 in A major. (1881)

Anton Bruckner.

New acquisition.
Date of purchase: June 2017.
First listen: 14-7-2017.
Label: CPO.
CD 7 from 11.
Recording dates: February 2011.
Recording venue: Kultur Casino, Bern, Switzerland.
Recording engineer: Jacob Händel.
Running time: 50:34.
Relevance to me: Essential.
Reference performance.

Works performed:
See heading.

Works performed by:
Berner SO, Mario Venzago.

I have said about the previous recordings in this box all there is to say about performance practice, tempi, details, dynamics etc, so I will not repeat myself again and again. You can always read my previous reviews I guess. So I limit myself to the 6th symphony, a pillar of Bruckner's ever increasing strength. First of all the orchestra is bigger as in the fifth symphony, and this you will hear. The punch is much harder, but nevertheless extremely effective. All is in the right proportions. The first movement is fierce and furious, an exhilarating and impressive second movement, and a gorgeous Scherzo, closed by a thundering Finale. Never mind how loud it gets, detail is never obscured. There is no doubt about the musical validity of the performance, it is simply vintage Bruckner pur sang.  The enchanting simplicity of Venzago's approach is amazing and at the same time an affectionate tribute to the composer. It is shown that Bruckner is still a  man of exuberant expression, but simply in a different way as we all thought. His music is one of reflection but also of spiritual introspection. This interpretation is more brisker, and yes, also terser and classically more connected to the composers in his time as you ever imagined. The performance is of a high standard with a assiduous dynamic architecture that comes to light in this near authentic take. And that is the great gain, a gain which makes us understand Bruckner better as ever before.
A curious anomaly came to light in the recording. The first two movements sounded just fine, but movement 3 and 4 sounded much better, with the fourth movement even a notch better. More openness of the soundstage. Has Jacob Händel been sleeping?


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