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Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 / Weber: Overtures

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Horst Stein
  • Composer: Anton Bruckner, Carl Maria von Weber
  • Audio CD (9 Sept. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B0007MR298
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 38,730 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Another of those wonderful Bruckner recordings by Decca from the 1970's. Presumably Horst Stein was engaged to do no.2 and 6 because Solti was not interested (like Karajan - took no interest in early Bruckner until much later) and Karl Bohm seemed never to have touched them at all. Stein to the rescue, and what a fine performance of no.6 he did in 1972. Full of flowing lines in the 1st movement and a particularly noble slow movement. It is not an easy symphony to conduct and some come unstuck with it! I remember Bernard Haitink live in Symphony Hall Birmingham with the Dresden Staatskapelle some years ago - he knitted all the various tempo relationships together with consummate skill (his recording with that orchestra dates from 2003 on Profil- Gunther Hanssler Vol.14). Karajan's recording with the Berlin Philharmonic (he only did it once) sounds like a rehearsal! Horst Stein's innate musicality coupled with Gordon Parry's superb Sofiensaal recording and wonderful Vienna Philharmonic playing make this a recipe for a classic musical experience - which it is! Go to Klemperer for granite-like musical logic and divided violins but not such a good recording. My review of Stein's Bruckner 2 is very positive and I have drawn a comparison with Mario Venzago from 2011.According to Philip Clark in the "Gramaphone", Venzago's Bruckner 3 (1889 version) is state-of-the art, but his no.6 is a damp squib! I cannot comment on this as I have not heard the recording. I am sure the Basle Symphony Orchestra is quite competent but cannot really compete with the Vienna Philharmonic on this ground. Again, like no.2, Weber Overtures provide the 10 minute fill-up and date from 1977. The Australian company "Eloquence" are again to be congratulated on giving us some classic Bruckner from Vienna.Read more ›
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I have lost count of the number of Bruckner 6ths I have owned. I keep my Klemperer, and discarded - Tintner, Dohnani, Haitink (Dresden) Jochum (Dresden)- I even discarded Karajan. The only really satisfactory performance I have heard is conducted by Eschenbach on the LPO live label - very good indeed. I got this after having read a number of good reviews from people who I think might see Bruckner in the same way I do. This performance is a complete revelation. This music, which so often sounds awkward, in Horst Stein's hands simply flows and glows. It emerges as the truly great work it is and takes its place naturally alongside the works either side of it in the Bruckner canon. I can't explain it better than to say that in this recording the piece simply sounds more natural, more, in fact, like Bruckner. No awkwardness, no clunkiness, no odd changes of gear. Sublime and glorious! Thank you everybody who recommended it!
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This performance of the Sixth starts with striking energy; Steins' opening is dark, brooding and almost menacing in its intensity and that mood is sustained throughout. The "take no prisoners" directness of his approach is such that I wondered for a moment whether it did not prematurely generate a sense of tension but listening to the whole convinced me of the excitement and integrity of Stein's vision. This highly dramatic interpretation is all of a piece with a conductor who made his reputation in opera; this is large-scale, opulent playing and the rich, sumptuous, analogue sound allows us to hear the virtuosity of the VPO. Perhaps the Adagio could be a tad tenderer and more reflective but again, it is in keeping with the account as a whole; in any case, for some, too much of that is tantamount to dawdling and lays Bruckner open to the accusation of being a perpetrator of longueurs. The Scherzo goes swimmingly and the Finale is bold and brave enough to paper over what may be heard as incipient banality of melodic theme and supposed structural weaknesses in its composition.

The bonuses are two rollicking and rumbustious overtures by Weber, the first very High Romantic and the second simultaneously very Germanic and Turkish, too, of course very reminiscent of "Die Entführung". Great fun.
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I can't quite understand why nobody has reviewed this wonderful recording yet, but I thought I'd get the ball rolling as I believe this one of the finest accounts of Bruckner's 6th Symphony on record.

Having bought Stein's magnificent recording of Bruckner's 2nd Symphony (on Decca, again with the Vienna Philharmonic), I couldn't wait to hear this CD. I certainly wasn't disappointed. Stein brings a human warmth to this most underrated of symphonies that is infectious and extremely satisfying. Where other conductors such as Wand, Karajan, Celibidache to name a few, focus on the monumental aspects of this music, Stein combines a more lyrical and light-handed approach with plenty of gusto and rustic spirit.

The 1st movement is thrilling here with the Viennese brass players presenting a swashbuckling sense of style, together with the exquisite antiphonal effects in the coda, which are brought off magnificently. Stein keeps things moving and doesn't allow the lyrical sections to drag and become ponderous. With the Adagio we are treated to a gorgeous performance, full of colour and a natural elegance of phrasing that is extremely poignant. This is Bruckner as seen through Schubertian glasses I feel - and in the Adagio from the 6th Symphony, this is a very convincing way of interpreting Bruckner's more intimate writing.

Although Stein's reading of the symphony as a whole is not quite as taut as Norrington's very interesting account with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra, his interpretation of the Scherzo and Finale do come close.
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