Simon Rattle / London Symphony Orchestra

Bruckner: Symphony No. 6

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Overshadowed by the beloved Fourth and Seventh symphonies, Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 6 in A major is underrepresented in the concert hall and on recordings. A presumed lack of recognizable Brucknerian characteristics may be to blame for the symphony's relative neglect, though it may be overlooked simply because there are no biographical or editorial controversies attached to it to make it a cause célèbre. Even so, the Sixth is one of Bruckner's most original and surprising works, as it offers a variety of gorgeous themes, rich harmonies, and dynamic motives that change kaleidoscopically and keep the listener guessing, so its gradual acceptance may have more to do with changing critical attitudes than with what's actually found in the music. Simon Rattle has slowly added Bruckner's symphonies to his long discography, and he has already produced what may be the most enlightening Bruckner recording of the decade with the 2012 release of the Symphony No. 9 in D minor, featuring a restored Finale completed by Nicola Samale, Giuseppe Mazzuca, Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs, and John Alan Phillips. Turning to Cohrs' 2015 Urtext edition of the Sixth, Rattle makes a strong case, giving it a matter-of-fact reading that lets the music speak for itself without preconceived notions or received traditions, almost as if it's being played for the first time. The London Symphony Orchestra plays with extraordinary clarity and vitality and responds to Rattle's steady direction with alertness and energy. LSO Live's glorious multichannel sound accounts for every note and gives this performance-focused instrumental details and sonic lushness, possibly the best recorded sound this symphony has ever received.

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