For this live performance of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 1 in C minor, conductor Philipp von Steinaecker uses the 1865-66 Linz version, and the chamber orchestra Musica Saeculorum plays original instruments from the mid-19th century, giving a fresh take on this often misunderstood and under-appreciated symphony. This historically informed performance offers insights not only into the practices Bruckner knew when he composed it, but also provides a vital historical connection to Schubert and the early Romantic tradition, which isn't always apparent in the later symphonies or, least of all, in the exaggerated way they would come to be played in the 20th century. When the orchestra is scaled down in size and the music is played with brisk tempos, the symphony reveals its daring character and sounds lean, vital, and innovative, rather unlike the more homogenized 1877 and 1891 Vienna revisions, which have received the most attention on CD. The committed playing by Musica Saeculorum is alert and energetic, which keeps the music at a high fever pitch of excitement, and the sound of the recording is clear and vibrant, doing justice to the period instrumentation and its distinctive tone colors. If other performances of the First Symphony have failed to capture the interest and affection of some listeners, this riveting recording might be the one that succeeds.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphonie No. 1 in C-Moll, WAB 101|