WORKS: Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 in C minor Strauss: Metamorphosen
PERFORMER: Dresden Staatskapelle/Giuseppe Sinopoli
CATALOGUE NO: 447 744-2
This centennial year of Bruckner’s death proceeds apace. The Fourth and Seventh Symphonies are generally considered to top the Brucknerian charts, but others are now coming into contention. Günter Wand is the leading exponent of Bruckner alive today and every opportunity should be taken to hear him: his performances are always a revelation because of his awesome overview of the composer’s architectural symphonic structures.
Bruckner’s Sixth Symphony, with its key of A major, its changing moods and strong rhythms, is reminiscent of Beethoven’s Seventh, to which Wand is no stranger, and this interpretation is as fine as one can expect to hear. All of which means that Sinopoli and Suitner could have been left standing, but that is not quite so. Sinopoli tends towards incandescent, often quirky readings. Suitner, like Bruckner, is an Austrian and shares with Wand and Sinopoli a highly intellectual approach to Bruckner, particularly in the double fugue of the Fifth’s finale.
Sinopoli’s Eighth (Nowak’s edition of the Bruckner-Schalk 1890 revision) has a compelling theatricality; in the Adagio, the horn quotation from Wagner’s Ring and the lush strings and harp of the Dresden Staatskapelle are memorable. Suitner too gives a sharply edged reading of the opening Allegro and the Scherzo of the Fifth (original version) with the Berlin Staatskapelle. Wand, on the other hand, with the NDR orchestra, edges nearer to producing the perfect complete set with this live recording of the Sixth. He even corrects a note error in the horn part in the first movement – at 84 he is still studying afresh.