Most listeners who have heard Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 in D minor probably know it from the revised editions published by Haas and Nowak, in all likelihood the final version of 1889. But fewer would recognize the original 1873 version, since it is dramatically different in material and has been recorded by only a handful of conductors who favor the symphonies in their original states. Published in 1977, this is the version of the symphony Bruckner dedicated to Richard Wagner, replete with quotations from Die Walküre, Tannhäuser, and Lohengrin; it was also the version the composer premiered in 1877 in a disastrous concert that was attended by a young music student and Bruckner enthusiast, Gustav Mahler. Though this 2006 recording by Marcus Bosch and the Aachen Symphony Orchestra goes a long way toward rehabilitating the unrevised score, through a spacious interpretation that is almost transcendental in its rapturous playing and inspirational for its radiant sound, Bruckner's dubious choices still bring the listener back to earth with feelings of disappointment. One may appreciate this exceptional recording for its warm performance and undeniable documentary value, but the symphony in this early state is flawed, no matter how sympathetically it is played. Bruckner's chronic starting and stopping are painfully evident here, and his distracted handling of ideas makes listening frustrating, no matter how elevated his themes are. And even though Bosch has taken this symphony at a reasonable pace for its immense size, it still seems excessively long-winded and meandering, because the developments build little momentum. Still, fans of Bruckner's wind writing will find the Aachen brass to be in top form, and audiophiles will revel in the glorious sonorities of this hybrid multichannel SACD.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 3 in D minor, WAB 103|