Bruckner: Symphony No. 1; Adagio (1876) from Symphony No. 3

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COMPOSERS: Bruckner
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Adagio (1876) from Symphony No. 3
PERFORMER: Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Georg Tintner
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554430
The earlier, so-called Linz version of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 1 has gradually taken over from the later Vienna score as the one which shows this brilliant and original work to best effect. But the American scholar William Carragan has shown that even that allegedly ‘original’ version is in fact a revision, made in 1877 – the more one knows about this Bruckner versions business, the more nightmarish it becomes. Fortunately the differences between the familiar Linz score and the edition recorded here are, on the whole, slight – nothing like as striking as in Carragan’s edition of the original Second Symphony. The end of the finale is heavier in orchestration and texture: I’m inclined to think Bruckner improved it in the 1877 reworking. In fact the revelation on this disc is Tintner’s spacious, reverent performance of the First Symphony’s Adagio. Tintner doesn’t match Solti’s energy and drive in the outer movements (in the finale Solti is tremendously exciting), but his Adagio reveals emotional depths which may surprise those who think they know this Symphony well. In his CD notes, Tintner admitted that he didn’t find the 1876 Adagio for the Third Symphony entirely convincing, and his reading does lose tension at the climax. But there’s still that concentrated, unexaggerated intensity of expression and rounded tone which typify Tintner’s Bruckner at its best. Recordings are excellent: warmly atmospheric, but also well-balanced and clearly focused. Bruckner-devotees shouldn’t hesitate; but newcomers to the First Symphony (and Bruckner-agnostics in general) may find Solti more convincing. Stephen Johnson

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