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Reviews: Bruckner: Symphony No. 3 - Nott

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Reviews: 3

Site review by Castor April 6, 2005
Performance:   Sonics:  
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Site review by Polly Nomial April 24, 2008
Performance:   Sonics:  
The text for this review has been moved to the new site. You can read it here:

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Review by prometheus August 23, 2005 (7 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
This disc was approached with the highest expectations--and yet has proved profoundly disappointing!

First, although Bruckner subjected the symphony to endless revision throughout the years of his professorial career in Vienna, I have always cared greatly for it. In this respect alone, I am in the good company of both Wagner and Mahler! Over the years, I have heard some wonderful performances: in concert by Wand, Kubelik and Masur, on record by Jochum (Dresden especially), Vanska, Bohm and, above all, that much-missed giant, Giuseppe Sinopoli. Second, while I--and presumably Anton Bruckner--have preferred the Nowak 1888 employed by Karajan, Bohm, Kubelik and Jochum to the various embryonic originals used by Inbal, Sinopoli and Vanska (1876 and 1877, in various permutations), I was keen to hear the 1873 edition which had elicited RW's approval--so long as Bruckner agreed to excise the 'hommage' of operatic quotation.Third, while I had heard nothing from this young English conductor,his background seemed unbelievably propitious: English Cathedral chorister, Cambridge choral Scholar, opera voice-training, immersion in contemporary music and, above all, turning his back on the world of 'graduate conducting seminars' and prestigious competitions, in favor of following the traditional Austro-German career path through repetiteur positions in small municipal opera houses--and then onward and upward! Last, the Bamberg orchestra--formed by emigres from the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia--has done some wonderful work over the years under its founding director--the great Joseph Keilberth--and under Eugen Jochum, Claus-Peter Flor, and Horst Stein. This is an orchestra one might dream of inheriting!

And the playing is, for the most part, very fine with some weighty brass worthy of Bayreuth and some utterly gorgeous violin tone which are both faithfully reproduced in a natural-sounding recording. Woodwind intonation is often another matter. And the goose-flesh one expects from the opening string ostinato/crescendo--as Bruckner was a great railroad fan, I have always felt that this was a representation of an oncoming express which then hurtles by--and the brass perorations broadening out at the close--well, they are all there!

What my ears do not hear, however, is just what another listener has found to characterize Nott's reading: regulation and consistency of pulse, and smooth integration of the often disparate parts of this whole. I must go further and indict Nott as an exemplar of the conducting type which is becoming all too common and which I dare to damn as "rock-and-roll conducting". If the music is at least moderately fast and loud, there is nothing amiss. But come difficult transitions and (especially) come slow music from andante downwards and we're in trouble, losing the pulse and sometimes almost grinding to a halt. The scherzo here is a prime example of the good--thrusting, driven, powerful--the "quasi adagio" with its inevitable marking of 'feierlich' represents the less-than-good. Some conductors born after, say, the Second World War can feel, articulate,express and sustain a genuinely slow tempo--and Bruckner wrote his most profound music in those 'feierlich' adagios, not in the brief, contrasting scherzos-but they are few and far between. To name names of the blessed few: Chailly, Rattle, Kreizberg, Conlon, Flor, Levine, Chung, Gergiev, Nagano, Vanska..........

Every reviewer I've ever read regularly mounts his unapologetic hobby-horse--and now I'm off on mine. Strong disagreement--and further examples of the illuminati--will be welcomed on the discussion thread.....

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