Bruckner: Symphony No. 1

Claudio Abbado / Lucerne Festival Orchestra

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Bruckner: Symphony No. 1 Review

by Blair Sanderson

The majority of conductors who have recorded Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 1 in C minor have used one of two editions of the well-established 1877 "Linz" version, and Claudio Abbado has previously recorded that version, twice using the 1953 edition by Leopold Nowak, and several times using the 1935 edition of Robert Haas. For this Accentus Music release, Abbado conducts the "Vienna" version of 1891 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, and the choice of the later score shows a preference for Bruckner's decisive revisions over the uncertainties of the earlier states of the score. A few other conductors have used this version, notably Günter Wand, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Leon Botstein, and Riccardo Chailly, but this is still only a small number of Brucknerians who endorse it. Even so, this is a somewhat more pugnacious First with numerous changes of details, and listeners familiar with the "Linz" version may be startled when they hear them. Ultimately, the real value of this performance lies not in the minutiae of Bruckner's changes but in the directness and confidence of the players, who deliver the symphony with a kind of urgency that is beneficial to the music, and a rawness of orchestration and scoring that fit with the composer's mature expression. Abbado has performed a service by advocating for this seldom played version, so anyone who is curious can compare all of his readings to understand their differences and Abbado's changing approach to this work.

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