Bruckner: Symphony No. 0 in D minor

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Bruckner
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Symphony No. 0 in D minor
PERFORMER: Chicago SO/Georg Solti
CATALOGUE NO: 452 160-2
‘Symphony No. 0’, sketched in 1863-4 but reworked substantially in 1869, requires no excuses: it belongs to the Bruckner canon. The revised first movement is a cogent, large canvas, anticipating grander efforts to come, and the Wagner influence (bar the odd slavish passage) seems remarkably assimilated already.

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An unsentimental Solti whips all this through in 38 minutes: not, perhaps, a bargain. But the live (and admirably clean) acoustic, which gives some of Decca’s Chicago recordings their warm ‘springy’ feel (the orchestra’s outstanding double basses seem to bowl straight into your drawing room) works to scintillating effect. Above all, the woodwind keeps things on track, a constant, beguiling chatter of linking and decorative motif, beautifully detailed. And in this acoustic, Solti’s silences really tell.

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I had a few initial doubts about the intonation of top strings; the Trio feels a mite loose; and fractionally late brass obscures some early finale counterpoint (whereas even the violins – with resplendent open strings – emerge in fine fettle for the ensuing Walkürean flurries). But this is an exciting offering, one to set beside Haitink’s version (on Philips) especially. Roderic Dunnett