Valery Gergiev / Münchner Philharmoniker

Bruckner: Symphony No. 2

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Like his other early symphonies, Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 2 in C minor was revised on several occasions, and it exists in no fewer than six versions. This recording by Valery Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic features a combination of the 1872 and 1877 versions, edited by Leopold Nowak, and it has been recorded frequently enough that it seems to be preferred by many conductors and orchestras. Gergiev's strengths famously lie in his performances of Russian music, while his efforts at interpreting Bruckner seem to put him on less familiar ground, so it is probably a wise choice to let the highly experienced Munich Philharmonic play this symphony according to its long tradition, dating back to 1897 when conductor Ferdinand Löwe introduced Bruckner to the orchestra's repertoire. The music is expertly handled and fairly exciting, to say the least, notwithstanding the hesitant nature of Bruckner's themes and their development, a problem he didn't resolve until his mature symphonies. Even though the Second struggles to find its voice, and only superficially resembles the Bruckner symphonies to come in its tremolos and odd episodic passages, it is still memorable for its melancholy mood and transparent orchestration. Gergiev and Munich make a good case for favoring this edition above the rest.

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