Thomas Dausgaard / Swedish Chamber Orchestra

Bruckner: Symphony No. 2

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Using the 1877 version of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 2 in C minor, Thomas Dausgaard conducts the Swedish Chamber Orchestra in a strong performance that makes a good case for keeping this revision in the repertoire. Even though the original 1872 version of the symphony has been preferred by many of Dausgaard's contemporaries, on the premise that Bruckner endorsed all of his original versions and only tolerated the later rewrites for the sake of getting his music played, there aren't many changes of substance between the two versions to concern prospective listeners. Unlike the drastic revisions that make editions of the later symphonies dramatically different compositions, here they mainly tighten the symphony's structure and shorten it, which is all to the good for listeners who suspect that this piece in any version is too episodic, riddled with too many pauses, and too loose in its expansive form. Despite the tendency of this symphony to bog down in spots, Dausgaard keeps momentum building wherever possible and gives the bolder movements a striking profile so they sound quite impressive in the SACD format. The orchestra has the ability to go from sublime quiescence to cutting forcefulness, and the musicians' commitment carries the music forward even when Bruckner's ideas seem to meander. BIS provides a remarkably spacious and reverberent sound, so the multichannel recording makes the orchestra seem much bigger than it is.

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