For this 2014 Linn release, Trevor Pinnock and the Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble present a modern reduction for chamber ensemble of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 2, intended in the spirit of Arnold Schoenberg's Society for Private Musical Performance, which in the 1920s gave concerts of transcriptions of orchestral works for a small audience of supporters. (Note, the filler work on this hybrid SACD is Johann Strauss' waltz, Wine, Women and Song, which was arranged by Alban Berg for the Society.) Part of the inspiration for giving the Second Symphony this treatment comes from the fact that Schoenberg's organization arranged a chamber version of Bruckner's Seventh, so his symphonies were clearly of interest to the group. Furthermore, the chamber format allows the music to show more of its connection to the Viennese tradition, particularly that of Schubert, which is most evident in the second movement. While reducing forces to a small body of instruments gives great clarity to the parts and reveals the inner workings of the counterpoint, it also tends to make the music sound exposed and thin, especially in the case of Bruckner, whose music often depends on massed brass for its strongest effects. In this arrangement by Anthony Payne, Bruckner's brass choir is represented by three horns, a trumpet, and a trombone, severely reducing the impact and requiring reinforcement from the whole group. Still, there are many passages that benefit from the leaner proportions, especially in the gemütlich sections for strings, or in the woodwind writing that is similarly light and convivial. While Payne, Pinnock, and the musicians clearly want this symphony to be appreciated in this adaptation, listeners shouldn't make this the first or only recording they hear. This recording is recommended for Bruckner aficionados and those who already know this symphony well from full-scale orchestral performances.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphonie No. 2 in C minor|