Bruckner: The Mature Symphonies – Symphony No. 6

COMPOSERS: Bruckner
LABELS: Accentus Music DVD
ALBUM TITLE: Bruckner: The Mature Symphonies – Symphony No. 6
WORKS: Symphony No. 6
PERFORMER: Staatskapelle Berlin/Daniel Barenboim
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: ACC 202176 blu-ray: ACC 102176

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Bruckner’s tonally restless and rhythmically ambiguous Sixth Symphony poses many challenges for the interpreter, not the least of which is creating a sense of cumulative growth through the outer movements. Conductor Daniel Barenboim negotiates this issue brilliantly in the first movement through choosing a suitably spacious tempo that can easily accommodate the very different moods of the first and second ideas. In contrast to his rather episodic approach to the corresponding movement of Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony, Barenboim brings a real sense of direction to the musical argument.The narrative can be seen moving inexorably towards a thrilling and purposeful coda.

The Finale too has some felicitous moments, though I felt slightly less convinced by the performance which in places lacked the same degree of architectural focus as in the first movement. I also had
some reservations about the Scherzo which could possibly have been a little more fleet of foot in the quieter passages. The slow movement on the other hand is wonderfully sustained with Barenboim bringing
a dark almost Mahlerian intensity to the funereal third idea.

As in Bruckner’s Fifth Symphony, the Berlin Staastkapelle plays superbly throughout, and special mention should be made of the absolutely marvellous solo horn playing of Patricia Gerstenberger. Little wonder then that the audience in Berlin’s Philharmonie concert
hall gives conductor and orchestra such an enthusiastic ovation. However, 58 minutes worth of music does appear to be a bit of a small measure for a DVD. I would have thought that space could have been found for filming some rehearsals for this concert.

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Erik Levi