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
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
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
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.