Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 - Blomstedt
Classical - Orchestral
Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 in A major
Herbert Blomstedt (conductor)
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Review by John Broggio - September 27, 2015
A wonderful account of this Cinderella symphony of Bruckner's mature output.
For various reasons, this symphony is not counted amongst Bruckner's finest; those hearing this performance would question that pervading wisdom. True, the first movement lacks such a long spun theme as the seventh possesses but we don't exactly hold Beethoven's fifth up to those charges. Blomstedt judges the tempo perfectly so that the insistent upper string rhythm is alive and yet only a minute relaxation is needed to afford the second subject the lyricism it implies. As in the other releases of this marvellous cycle, each entry is sensitively phrased whether it is the primary thematic material or the internal dialogue - all are calculated to give the movement inner and outward momentum. (And that is the most positive sense of calculation - there is plenty of spontaneity in evidence within a carefully constructed framework of performance.) Perhaps most pleasing of all is that Blomstedt and his orchestra are content to "just" play what is in front of them - no aggrandising here in the climaxes that blossom naturally from the germ of musical ideas that precede each one.
The Adagio instantly reveals the depth of tone that Leipzig strings possess and it is a joy to the ear to have this in hi-res sound. Phrase flows from section to section, paragraph into paragraph without any hint of pedantic "musical" punctuation but nor is it the seamless outpouring that some conductors aspire to: the sections of Bruckner's score are audibly delineated but oh so very carefully. After stretching the pulse to breaking point in the central anti-climax, the resumption of the opening pulse is a very welcome release. It is perhaps the treatment of this movement that elevates this performance so; compared to many, this actually feels & sounds like a Brucknerian Adagio. A wonderfully wide dynamic range is perhaps most obviously revealed in the Scherzo, where the contrasts are telescoped by Bruckner and performed with unerring verve by the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester. The sense of air and lightness around the string pizzicato phrases at the beginning of the Trio are such that it nearly sounds like a string quartet! The horn-dominated chorale though shows off the wind section to full effect as well.
The finale is perhaps the main reason for the relative unpopularity of this work: it has a deceptively intriguing opening. Blomstedt manages to show exactly how it relates to the early climaxes at the same time as suggesting how the material of the earlier movements link with this; for those jaded who have hitherto not "got" this work, this account will most likely "unlock" it for you. With almost fiercely brilliant precision, the many musical motifs are placed into focus and when the music can embrace it, there is a winning glow to the sound of the Leipzig orchestra. The explosion of joy and deserved response from the audience probably says all that is needed: this was a night to remember in Leipzig and luckily for us, we can.
The sound is just as fine as the rest of the series - for all the jaw-dropping pianissimo passages, there is little to indicate that this recording comes from concert performances (well, until after a respectful pause following the last note). The clarity of the orchestra is a marriage of great playing and wonderful engineering that allows for individual lines to be heard with ease yet coalesce to form a coherent symphonic sound. As usual, the notes are very good indeed.
Copyright © 2015 John Broggio and HRAudio.net