Symphony in D minor, Die Nullte
Bruckner Orchester Linz/Markus Poschner
Capriccio C 8082 43:49 mins
There’s no avoiding the name of this symphony, and however vigorously you show it’s a misnomer, you still have to explain how it came to have this unique title, as Paul Hawkshaw does in his indignant notes. Actually Bruckner himself is to blame, thanks to one of his ill-advised attempts at order. It should be Symphony No. 2, but since that is already claimed it will go on being called The Noughth. It was written after the Second Symphony, and is in no way immature, though it is no masterpiece.
What is fascinating is that in most respects it has the structure of a characteristic work, though the material Bruckner works with here is not on the level of his mature works. The most striking difference is that it has no really slow movement: the second movement is an Adagio, a charming, even whimsical piece, played here by the Bruckner Orchester Linz with great charm. The work begins with a typical tramping rhythm, and there are already characteristic passages and gestures of the kind that we expect in the later works. But the material Bruckner is working with is not on their level, and his ways of working with it are primitive.
The most immediately identifiable movement is the third, a Scherzo with a slower central section. This is vintage. The last movement is the most problematic, as is often the case with Bruckner. Fortunately this performance is impeccable, in the safe hands of Markus Poschner, and I look forward to the continuation of the series.