Symphony No. 6 in A major
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Thomas Dausgaard
BIS BIS-2404 53:21 mins
A few months ago I reviewed Andris Nelsons conducting Bruckner’s Sixth, and found it heavy-going to the point of tedium, indeed to the point of wondering about the stature of the work. Now, with Thomas Dausgaard conducting the admirable Bergen Philharmonic, I am more impressed by it than I have ever been except by Celibidache’s highly individual reading. Dausgaard, taking fairly swift tempos, and conducting with a strong rhythmic sense, has this enigmatic work bounding along and at last made me understand why Bruckner called it ‘the cheekiest.’ Dausgaard has his wind players, especially his oboes and clarinets, getting up to mischief whenever possible; and the places where the oboe moves into lament – several of them, especially in the relatively expansive slow movement – and then gives way to music of contrasting feeling, are a revelation.
I think one reason that I found this account so bracing is that the Bergen Philharmonic has a lean sound, so that even the most noisy of Bruckner’s passages – and there are plenty of them – still move swiftly along and don’t sound like adrenaline-fired carthorses. Anyone approaching this work for the first time, and wondering why it has its Cinderella status, should listen to this and will wonder still more.