Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896) Symphony No. 6 in A, WAB 106 [54:35]
Philharmonie Festiva/Gerd Schaller
rec. info not provided
Reviewed as lossless download HÄNSSLER PROFIL PH14021 [57:29]
Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 6 in A, WAB 106 [53:08] Symphony No. 7 in E, WAB [63:14]
Royal Concertgebouw/Mariss Jansons
rec. live, 7-9 March 2012 (No. 6), 23-25 December 2012 (No. 7), Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
Reviewed as lossless download RCO LIVE RCO14005 [53:08 + 63:14]
Three new Bruckner Sixth Symphony recordings in two months.
I just finished covering Simone Young’s account with the Hamburg
Philharmonic, which was fast and competent but not as emotionally hard-hitting
as it could be (review).
Now on to Gerd Schaller and the Philharmonie Festiva and Mariss Jansons
with the Concertgebouw.
Surprisingly, Jansons is the lightweight. I mean this literally: his
performance is the fastest and most balletic. The first movement, dispatched
in under 15 minutes, is weirdly quiet and calm, the second subject emphasized
at the expense of the first. The whole symphony, in fact, seems less
dramatic than usual, with Jansons seeing it as a bouncy homage to the
classical era. The slow movement flows nicely and is only lacking a
little punch. This however is definitely not an account you should track
down if you like your Bruckner to be big, monumental, and full of emphatic
Gerd Schaller, meanwhile, contributes the slowest and most profound
of the three interpretations. His first movement is flawlessly paced
at a sort of middle-ground between, say, Young/Jansons and Celibidache.
His adagio is deeply emotional, and expansively paced at 18 minutes,
with surprisingly good playing from the Philharmonie Festiva. I’m
not totally sure what the Philharmonie Festiva even is, but they are
really excellent, and have a fuller, more richly developed Bruckner
sound than Simone Young’s Hamburg orchestra. They rise to every
Of the three new recordings, only Gerd Schaller’s can be recommended
without reservations. Schaller also benefits from a true Brucknerian
acoustic: a good three seconds of reverb after the loud codas, but the
instruments never wash each other out. Simone Young’s orchestra
isn’t as good, and her interpretation a little plain; Mariss Jansons
completely misfires, unless his eccentric, light reading is to your
The Jansons CD does come with a bonus, in the form of the Seventh Symphony,
which is excellent. “Eccentric, light” readings have a way
of working in the Seventh, which after all is a far more lyrical and
far less bombastic symphony than No. 6. The first two movements are
unusually songlike and free-flowing. The adagio has a timpani and cymbal
crash. You can however save yourself some cash by skipping Jansons and
instead opting for the slightly older, slightly better Seventh by Nikolaus
Harnoncourt performed with the same philosophy. By the way, the Jansons
Seventh was recorded, in part, on Christmas Day.
Jansons’ Sixth is skippable, but his Seventh is good. Gerd Schaller’s
Sixth is outstanding, one of the best recordings of the symphony in
years. Not what you expected, is it? Me neither.