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Bruckner sym0 C8082
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Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 0 in D minor WAB 100 “Die Nullte” (ed. Nowak)
Bruckner Orchester Linz/Markus Poschner
rec. 22-24 February 2021, Rehearsal Hall, Musiktheater, Linz
Bruckner 2024 - The Complete Versions Edition
CAPRICCIO C8082 [44:29]

This is the third and latest instalment in Markus Poschner’s “Bruckner 2024” – running parallel, if not in direct competition – with Gerd Schaller’s identically named project to present all the complete editions. I have already reviewed Poschner’s recordings of the Sixth and the Eighth symphonies in this series and was considerably more enthusiastic about the latter.

A brisk, crisp, purposeful start in crystalline sound promises well for this recording. The march morphs seamlessly into the beguilingly languorous and dignified slow section graced with some lovely woodwind playing; nonetheless, overall Poschner favours brisker tempi which suits the mood of this symphony. The brief, fast, martial section beginning halfway through is thrillingly delivered, almost at the limit of what the orchestra can articulate but it succeeds, before the reprise of the opening theme at exactly the same tempo as in the beginning, bestowing a neat sense of symmetry; Poschner is in complete control of his material here. Interesting to the listener are the fleeting appearances of familiar Brucknerian tropes in embryo such as brass fanfares and his recognisable rhythmic devices. The coda is beautifully gauged: a typical brassy blast succeeded by a menacing crescendo of semiquavers culminating in a pause, then an emphatic, climactic chorale. Yes; Bruckner makes more of this device in later symphonies but the score as it is here is delivered perfectly.

Like Schaller, Poschner does not linger over the Andante but the rich sonorities of its chordal introduction are given full weight – note especially the warm cellos - and the strings elaborate their descending, filigree line elegantly, echoed by the flutes; again, Bruckner’s conception could not be more feelingly realised. Another mid-point pause ushers in a pacing, pizzicato section cushioning long phrases from the horns – the orchestral playing throughout really is immaculate – before another extended pause and a simple, serene conclusion.

The timing of the Scherzo is, on paper at least, surprising: longer than any other recording, but that is because after a vivid, driven, first section - the principal flautist in particular probably needed a little lie-down after his exertions - Poschner takes the Trio not just “langsamer und ruhiger” but I would say “viel langsamer” – and it works fine. The timpani at the end are terrific. The finale is moderately paced. The horns confer an aureate glow over the introduction before the busy, bustling development and Poschner makes the most of some slightly fractured material. If the conclusion is more “sound and fury” than real substance, it could hardly be made more appealingly or excitingly rendered than it is here.

This is a performance to set alongside Gerd Schaller’s equally satisfying account on the Profil label (review); both make the very most of a symphony for which few apologies need be made despite its still sitting, perhaps unfairly, outside the accepted canon of “the nine”.

Ralph Moore

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