Simone Young

Bruckner: Symphony No. 0

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Continuing her exemplary survey of the symphonies of Anton Bruckner, Simone Young leads the Hamburg Philharmonic in an exceptional reading of the Symphony in D minor, "Die Nullte," a work that has become increasingly popular with each new recording. Young's SACD series on Oehms has been notable for the number of Urtext versions she has recorded, to be distinguished from Bruckner's numerous and sometimes confusing revisions. Even though this early symphony only exists in the 1869 version, edited by Leopold Nowak, it has created its own share of bewilderment, not least because of its misleading numbering but also over its chronological placement. It seems to have been rejected by Bruckner, who marked one copy with the empty set symbol -- Ø -- and inscribed the symphony "gilt nicht," so it has been dubbed the "Annullierten Symphonie" by some and the "Zero-th" by others, though it is most widely known as the Symphony No. 0. Yet it was actually composed between the First and Second symphonies, and in many ways, it seems to be a dry run for the problematic Third Symphony, which importantly shares the same key. Listeners who wish to understand this work in the wider context of Bruckner's cycle could have no better guide than Young, who grasps its transitional characteristics, as a development from the Romantic symphonic style of Mendelssohn and Schumann to something original with Bruckner. Yet she manages to make it much more than an obligatory exercise by drawing a passionate and nuanced performance from the Hamburg Philharmonic, her collaborators throughout this recording project. Bruckner's struggle to find a voice in this work makes it important for all admirers of his music to know, and Young makes the experience meaningful with her deep musicality and unerring sense of what works best. While this is by no means a perfect symphony, Young may have given it a perfect interpretation, or as close as any conductor is likely to come to it.

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