Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 6

Mario Venzago

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Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 6 Review

by Blair Sanderson

Continuing his impressive series of Anton Bruckner's symphonies on CPO, Mario Venzago leads the Bern Symphony Orchestra in period style performances of the Symphony No. 3 in D minor (1889 version) and the Symphony No. 6 in A major (1881 version), using scores edited by Leopold Nowak. Venzago strives for historically informed performances that give varying perspectives on Bruckner's development, employing different orchestras with each release to reveal important differences in the composer's orchestral conceptions and to show that there wasn't one prescription of how the symphonies should sound. Instead, Venzago rejects the massive and heavy-handed interpretations of the early 20th century and tries to re-create the 19th century sound world in all its variety and intimacy. The glistening, vibrato-less string tone, pungent woodwinds, and crisp brass and timpani are easily distinguished from the more homogenized tone colors of a modern symphony orchestra, and Venzago ensures that these distinctive timbres aren't obscured by keeping the orchestral sections lean and discrete. Indeed, there are many places where the Bern musicians sound like a chamber orchestra, and their pristine lines and transparent textures reveal many inner parts that are lost in bigger sounding recordings. CPO's clean audiophile reproduction reflects the care that went into producing such crystalline performances, so this is about as good as it gets on a conventional CD. Highly recommended.

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