Bruckner: Symphony No. 3

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COMPOSERS: Bruckner
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Symphony No. 3
PERFORMER: Chicago SO/Georg Solti
CATALOGUE NO: 440 316-2 DDD
Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra continue their canon of the Bruckner symphonies with this stunning performance of the Third, the so-called ‘Wagner’ symphony (Wagner accepted its dedication from his disciple in 1873). This is one of the most revised of Bruckner’s compositions, and it is the 1877 revision (Nowak edition) which Solti has recorded here. A muscular opening movement is succeeded by a sublime Adagio in which violas shine after the quotes from Tristan; later passages from Die Walküre also receive due prominence. Solti continues with a thrilling Scherzo with its wistful Mahlerian Trio and concludes with a full-blooded finale; altogether a wonderfully dramatic disc with committed orchestral playing of the highest quality.

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If you wish to take up Wagner-spotting as a hobby you can continue by listening to López-Cobos and his version of the Eighth with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, where Siegfried’s motif forms the climax of the Adagio. Comparisons are inevitable between these two American orchestras, and, as expected, Chicago beats Cincinnati hands down, though Cincinnati are by no means poor country cousins. The recording unusually favours the woodwind and the results are highly felicitous. López-Cobos is, however, certainly not in the same league as Solti, who, in the Indian summer of his career, is producing a wonderful legacy of Bruckner discs. Christopher Fifield