Symphony No. 6
London Symphony Orchestra/Simon Rattle
LSO Live LSO0842 (hybrid CD/SACD) 56:01 mins
Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony is usually regarded as, in one way or another, the odd man out among his mature symphonies. He himself called it ‘die keckste’ (the cheekiest) and it does have a lack of the solemnity that is so powerful in the symphonies either side of it. In this live recording, of a new authorised edition – not that you’d notice it – Simon Rattle seems determined to take Bruckner at his word. The first movement is marked majestoso, odd when what starts the work is a jaunty figure on the upper strings, continuing while the main theme enters on the lower strings, soon leading to a rollicking tutti. Not many conductors can bring this off, though Celibidache shows how it can be done, at a notably slower tempo. As the work progresses, it’s always clear that it couldn’t be by anyone else, but it’s almost as if Bruckner were trying to show that he has a wider expressive range than he was given credit for – and still is. Rattle is a most uneven interpreter of Bruckner, and in this case he strikes me as trying too hard to put his own stamp on the work.