Bruckner: Symphony No. 3

LABELS: Arthaus
WORKS: Symphony No. 3
PERFORMER: Bavarian RSO/Georg Solti
This is a straightforward television recording of a concert that Georg Solti gave with the Bavarian RSO in 1993 at Munich’s Gasteig Concert Hall. Solti, using the 1877 revision of Bruckner’s Third Symphony, makes a powerful case for a work too often derided as formally awkward, or worse. The meticulously controlled breadth of the slow movement is extremely impressive, while the impetus Solti lends to the first and last movements helps to keep the reading unusually cogent. The brass sounds majestic, but what perhaps counts for most in a performance strikingly rich in its tonal colours is the sweetness of the Bavarian strings, which makes the music friendlier, less remote, than is usual. At the end of the reading, it is good to see the genial raise of the eyebrows, the smile at the knowledge of a job unusually well done, even for Solti. In Stravinsky’s Symphony in Three Movements the beefmess of the orchestra’s woodwind sound is never allowed to blur the sinisterly relentless motion of the outer movements. It makes the work’s wartime allusions, at first denied by the composer, utterly unmistakable. No frills in the presentation, but when the camerawork is always relevant that matters not a jot.