Bruckner:Symphony 3 [Staatskapelle Dresden, Yannick Nezet-Seguin] [Profil: PH12011]
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PROFIL 12011; PROFIL - HANSSLER - Germania; Classica Orchestrale
Revelatory and awe-inspiring - it's a certainty to be one of my Records of the Year for 2016. RECORDING OF THE MONTH --MusicWeb,Oct'16
Derived from a radio recording, the sound quality is excellent. --Gramophone,Dec'16
Yannick Nezet-Seguin 'gets'this huge score better than anyone else. Performance ***** Recording ***** BBC MUSIC ORCHESTRAL CHOICE --BBC Music Magazine,Mar 17
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And yes, the full unpruned score giving some 400 bars more than edited versions is for me undoubtedly the best......once familiar with the full score I fear you'll find others less fulfilling.
And the performance ? Gripping and utterly convincing.
If like me Bruckner forms one of the principle beams that supports your time on this planet you shouldn't be without this superb disc.
The version performed here is Nowak’s edition of the original score of 1873-the “true” Wagner Symphony both dedicated to and incorporating thematic material by Bruckner’s idol. When Bruckner visited Wagner to discuss dedicating a symphony to him, they got so drunk on beer that Bruckner forgot which of the two works offered Wagner had chosen and he had to write to Wagner for confirmation!
Nowak actually used Wagner’s own fair copy as his basis for this edition, and it is considered to be the most “raw” around the edges, so to speak.
This is not the forum to discuss the various editions and their merits, but most conductors have favoured one of the later revisions, usually Nowak’s edition of the 1889 score published in 1959. The 1890 Vienna published version is highly dubious, having been subjected to the editorial scissors of the Schalk Brothers.
The version played here was published in 1977, but has since been recorded comparatively rarely though most notably by Inbal/VSO, Sinopoli/Dresden, Simone Young/Hamburg PO and my own “reference” performance, Blomstedt with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. All four are superb, my preference for trhe Blomstedt being marginal.
For many years I accepted the received wisdom that the original version was something of an embarrassment, and that it was wise of Bruckner to excise the Wagner quotations as part of his major revisions, but I must confess that I now actually PREFER the 1873 Original Version, and it seems that Maestro Nezet-Seguin agrees!
Still a very young man in musical terms, he has already given us a fine performance with his orchestra “Metropolitan” of Montreal, a reading whose virtues were extolled by no less than Uber-Brucknerian Bernard O’Hanlon on this very platform, though he felt that the orchestral playing was somewhat less than involved.
In fact, this performance pre-dates the Quebec recording, being taken from live performances in the Semper Oper in 2008 and recorded by MDR Kultur. This was the conductor’s debut with the orchestra.
On this recording Nezet-Seguin leads the incomparable Dresden Staatskapelle, an orchestra which would be a strong contender in the event that one was compelled by some totalitarian regime to choose to listen to one orchestra only evermore!
In Bruckner they are an ideal band, surpassed only and inevitably by the VPO.
The conductor reveals that this is a work with which he is greatly taken-possibly obsessed –and this certainly emerges in the sense of affection generated in this superb performance which is infused with more energy and is even more affectionate that the Quebec recording.
The naivety in Bruckner’s technique is demonstrated by the number of climactic peaks in this work which can in the wrong hands result in a disjointed performance wherein there are too many destinations and not enough journey time!
Bruckner was aware of this and one can see the point of his revisions in that they leave the work more flowing, much more in the style of the succeeding symphonies.
The maturity is demonstrated in the rich melodic invention-very recognisably Bruckner to an extent that the preceding works are not, and of course there is the grim humour of the scherzo and the finale-the raucous celebrations in the tavern with the corpse laid out its coffin just through the thin wall in the next room! Even in “jolly mode”, intimations of mortality are never far away.
The re-mastered recording is excellent, the resonance is perfect and the sound is rich and detailed. In fact there is a velvet bloom to the sound reminiscent of the best of analogue recording, though it is of course DDD.
The conductor gives the work plenty of drive-it is if anything a tad more driven than the Quebec recording, but such is the commitment and lustrous playing that it seems smoother and better tailored-a natural Bruckner sound picture.
The strings are predictably silken, the brass is ripe and the woodwind is plangent. He makes the most of the Wagner quotations-hopefully we will get some recorded Wagner from him soon-and delivers a thoroughly convincing account of what are generally held to be the awkward sections!
Pauses are well judged-a breath to a “breath and a half” in the slow movement- and no more-and there is both lilt and bounce in the final 2 movements. The first movement is more “grand” than “mysterious” as marked by Bruckner, but to my ears the fault there lies in the marking not the interpretation.
The second movement is just glorious, the opening melody unfolding in perfect timing and glorious sonority.
I have already expressed my belated preference for this 1873 version, and I can assert that this is a really fine account of it in every aspect.
The sound is not as forensic or immediate as the state-of the art recording that is the Quebec recording on ATMA, but it is the equal artistically at lest of the 3 of recordings I mentioned earlier- though the Simone Young version is in truly stunning sound and in SACD for those to whom this matters- and overall this version is preferable artistically also to the Montreal recording and joins the ranks of the very best of this version.
As ever with Profil the accompanying booklet is extensive with essays on the music, the composer and the artists in German and English and copious colour photographs and is truly excellent, though to accommodate it the single 72 minute disc is packaged in an old-fashioned double jewel case which seems wasteful of space and materials, but the cost is very reasonable so it can be recommended as a “Best Buy”, and it vies with my personal favourite-Blomstedt-for first choice.
I have deliberately not included in my list the performance by Remy Ballot recorded in the Stifts Kirche, St.Florian with the Altomonte Orchestra and part of a series in progress.
I find this whole series of Bruckner recordings so far to be excruciatingly dull- a beautiful, diffuse collection of musical wallpaper utterly devoid of the pulse and spirit of Bruckner.
I have a similar reaction to the recording by Tintner, which is neither as well played nor recorded to boot. Others disagree.
Gerd Schaller performs the 1874 published version, in an edition by Dr William Carragan as always in his remarkable set, and this is well worth hearing but not a direct comparison.
For the 1889 Version the choice is extensive-the Karajan is superb in the newly re-mastered Karajan 80s Box and hopefully will be issued separately-the original release was very digitally “bright”. Haitink VPO is luxurious, Jansons is best heard in RCO Broadcast Box (a knockout reading!), Barenboim, Wand (his later MPO and DSO recordings on Profil are best, Tennstedt BRSO and for a glorious weighty reading Maazel’s last Bruckner recording with his Munich Philharmonic is very worthy, as is his BRSO version in the compete set which I for one at least GREATLY admire-and the list goes on!
The adventurous might try the 2 disc set in Peter Jan Marthé’s Bruckner Reloaded series-an amalgam of several versions and the conductors own editorial adjustments, which is a glorious (and long!-surpassing even Celibidache though not Ballot and Tintner!) and somewhat insane version!
All lovers of Bruckner MUST hear the 1873 Version of this symphony, and they will not be disappointed in this superb version to which I award 5 Stars. Stewart Crowe.
Nézet-Séguin takes over five minutes longer here, six years earlier, and that pays dividends of sweep and grandeur; alongside it, the Montreal performance sounds simply perfunctory. There is a minimum of extraneous noise in this Dresden concert and it has decidedly more impact and presence both sonically and artistically. It is hardly surprising that the Staatskapelle strings sound richer and fuller, their famous aureate glow filling phrases more expressively and weightily than their Montreal counterparts. The magical opening of cascading arpeggios is so much more urgent, immediate and mysterious in Dresden and the gradations in dynamics are more subtly graded, too. Their involvement and intensity in the Adagio here is glorious, without the sense of haste in Montreal - which is hardly surprising considering that Nézet-Séguin there shaves some three minutes off the timing of this earlier recording. There is much more bite, energy and lilt in the Scherzo here and the chorales in the finale are much more stirring in 2008. Even the recorded sound is better: rich, detailed and resonant; I find the sound on the ATMA issue oddly flat and lifeless.
So this is the one to buy if you want to hear both the conductor and the symphony at their respective best.