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Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 3 in d minor [52:10]
Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Klaus Tennstedt
Recorded at the Bavarian Radio on November 4, 1976.
PROFIL 04093 [52:10]

 


Before listening to this recording, I was relatively unfamiliar with most of Bruckner’s symphonies save the more famous numbers four, seven and nine. In the past I had always thought of this composer’s work as rather formulaic, that all of the works rather sounded alike, and that if you had heard one, you had heard them all. I confess that after listening to this recording, I was half right. The music is formulaic. There is the obligatory quasi-minimalist opening movement, short on motifs, long on repeats, with some wonderfully rich string writing and some hellacious blasts of glorious brass. Next there comes the luscious slow movement that tries too hard to sound like Wagner. Follow that with the obligatory rollicking scherzo in triple meter, and then wrap it all up with a boisterous finale that is almost an afterthought.

What I was pleased to discover however, is that although there is a formula here, it is a splendid one, and one that took me through a wonderful adventure of repeated listening. This is music of the grandest architecture, and the soaring melodies and pugnacious brass writing belies the simple, pious man who was so beleaguered with self doubt that he often damaged his own works at the behest of seemingly well-meaning friends.

Bruckner’s sonorities reflect his accomplishment as an organist. As one listens, it is easy to imagine this devout little man sitting at the console pulling stop after stop, and adding rank upon rank of magnificent color to his scores. I think that I enjoy this music as much for its wash of overwhelming sound as I would enjoy say a Mozart symphony for its developmental perfection.

Profil is a new label on the scene, and from the issues that I have thus received, is dedicated to resurrecting valuable performances from this past. This is one such performance, and within the first few minutes of the opening movement, I am reminded of just how great a loss music suffered at the passing of Klaus Tennstedt in 1998. Although duly celebrated during his lifetime, he does not often come up on the list of truly great conductors. This is a situation in dire need of correcting.

This is profound music-making, well paced and beautifully balanced. The sound of the Bavarian Radio Orchestra in this recording is divine. Tennstedt gets such a fine response from his strings, and the brass, although allowed to blaze away at times, never overpower, and never play out of tune.

If this disc is a harbinger of things to come, then I cannot wait to see what Profil continue to bring forth from the vaults. This is the kind of recording that brings back my long lost childhood excitement of putting on a disc for the sole sake of discovery. It restores some of my naïve trust that if something was good enough to be on a record, then it must be really good. This recording is really good.

Profil take great care to produce excellent booklet essays, and this is no exception. The typo on the composer’s dates is pretty hysterical however. (They have the composer passing on at the ripe old age of twelve.)

No lover of great orchestral playing should be able to find any fault in this recording. It is a winner through and through and worthy of any collection. Most highly recommended.

Kevin Sutton

 



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