Gerd Schaller / Philharmonie Festiva

Bruckner: Symphony No. 3

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Between 2012 and 2017, Gerd Schaller and his hand-picked Philharmonie Festiva released a complete cycle of the symphonies of Anton Bruckner, and these critically acclaimed recordings were reissued in 2018 in a box set, along with the complete choral works. Such an impressive achievement is usually deemed sufficient for most conductors' purposes, but not for Schaller, who returns to present an alternate version of the Symphony No. 3 in D minor. This is understandable, for the differences between Bruckner's edited version of 1874 and the first published edition of 1890 are considerable. For the cycle, Schaller selected the 1874 version, which, at over an hour, was the longest, and included the various Wagner quotations which Bruckner deleted from all subsequent versions. This Profil release offers the 1890 revision by Bruckner, Josef Schalk, and his brother, Franz Schalk, which is shorn of the Wagner references and substantially fleshed-out in orchestration. While the work of the Schalk brothers has become unfashionable and is regarded by most modern conductors as inauthentic, Schaller defends this version because of Bruckner's involvement with it and the fact that it was published in his lifetime, thus giving it a validity that other Schalk versions may or may not have. That Schaller is willing to explore the early and late states of Bruckner's Third is admirable and a testament to his conscientiousness as an interpreter. But the real value of this recording is found in the committed playing of the Philharmonie Festiva and the authentic Brucknerian feeling they bring to the music, notwithstanding the odd touch-ups and thickened textures that jump out at the experienced listener. For all who think Bruckner's complete legacy should be heard and appreciated, this recording is required listening.

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