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Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 3 in D minor (1890 version)* [41:48]
Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Resurrection (1884-86 rev 1893-96) [88:46]
Anny Felbermayer (soprano); Sonja Dreksler (alto)
Austrian Radio Choir
Vienna Symphony Orchestra/F. Charles Adler
rec. * live, 8 April 1953, large Konzerthaussaal, Vienna; 29-30 March, 1956, venue unspecified
MUSIC & ARTS CD-1265 [75:43 + 64:51]

This release has already been reviewed in outstanding fashion by John Quinn, so there will be an After-the-Lord-Mayor’s-Show feel to my own brief thoughts. Part of the frustration of JQ’s review is that any nail I wish to hammer, I find that he had hammered first; and rather better at that. Thus it’s shavings from the bench time from me.
 
We have both referenced Adler’s Vienna recordings in past reviews (Mahler’s Third Symphony and the Tenth in the Jökl edition), and Music & Arts once again earns gratitude for disinterring Adler’s, in some ways, pioneering legacy. The Resurrection Symphony is heard in a studio recording given over two consecutive days, 29 and 30 March 1956, made for radio broadcast by ORF (Austrian Radio).
 
Adler’s long association with Mahler’s music never led to the kind of international renown that was his due. His recording of the 2nd Symphony was never made for release, else it could have supplanted Klemperer’s earlier LP, and could have at least provided stern context and/or competition to the later Scherchen - though not necessarily the Bruno Walter. That’s as may be. What one can say with certainty is that Adler’s view of the symphony is a strongly personalised one as regards its sense of time and space. This is a relaxed reading, certainly in the first movement, though that is not to imply slackness of rhythm. The second movement is warmly textured, whilst the third is again unhurried but characterful. Some sympathetic phrasing is coaxed from the Vienna Symphony, at the time one of Europe’s most hardworking orchestras, and that perhaps explains a few inevitable infelicities now and again. Urlicht is sung by Sonja Draksler and extremely well. The studio miking presumably has quite a lot to do with the balancing issues in the finale. Overall then this is an important but not necessarily archivally indispensable recording. It preserves an Adler reading of breadth, latitude and sure architectural peaks and troughs.
 
The companion symphony is Bruckner’s Third. This is another composer with whom Adler is closely associated. He had conducted Bruckner just after the First World War in Germany and was to take his expertise to America when he left Europe. The SPA LP he left of Bruckner’s Third was made in 1953 but the recording in this Music & Arts release is of a live concert performance given on 8 April 1953. In some ways his fleet performance reminds one a little of the Bruckner performances of Volkmar Andreae, which were given in the same city with the same orchestra in the same year, using the same Theodor Rättig edition. If I find Andreae the superior Brucknerian in this particular symphony, it’s not by much, and then mainly because his slow movement is somewhat more moving, and longer. There is, however, in Adler’s reading energy, declamatory power, tenderness and a sense of sure logic in the music’s development. His long expertise as a Brucknerian reveals itself throughout.
 
Jonathan Woolf
 
See also review by John Quinn

Masterwork Index: Bruckner 3 ~~ Mahler 2

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