Bruckner Symphony No. 3
On the basis of this performance, drawn from concerts given in the Stockholm Concert Hall in September 2010, Sakari Oramo demonstrates very impressive credentials as a Bruckner conductor. The patchwork quilt of strikingly contrasted ideas that makes up the Finale of the Third Symphony in its much truncated 1889 version can so easily sound incoherent and architecturally unconvincing. Oramo overcomes this problem through sustaining an urgent but steady pulse throughout the movement and building up the tension sufficiently so that the glorious return of the Symphony’s opening theme at the coda does not sound contrived.
Oramo’s impeccable structural control also pays huge dividends in the first movement. Once again the conductor resists the obvious temptation to vary the tempo according to the specific character of the musical ideas. In lesser hands, such an approach might seem dogged, particularly if you take Bruckner’s marking of Mehr langsam at its face value. Yet there is never a hint of stodginess to this performance, a result no doubt of Oramo’s imaginative ear for orchestral sonority and his insistence on creating the maximum dynamic variety. The Royal Stockholm Philharmonic responds to Oramo’s demands with playing of great expressive power, the violins only momentarily faltering in the syncopated accompaniment to the second idea of the slow movement, while the opulent acoustics, brilliantly captured here by Exton’s engineers, seem tailor-made for Bruckner’s music.