Sakari Oramo / Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra

Bruckner: Symphony No. 3 "Wagner Symphony"

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Exton's super audio presentation of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 3 in D minor, the so-called "Wagner Symphony," is an impressive showcase for the work's powerful orchestration, though the interpretation of the music is a little less special. Sakari Oramo performs the 1889 version, edited by Leopold Nowak, which is one of the most frequently performed versions and one that modern conductors turn to when they have doubts about using the earlier, less established editions. There is still a lot that can be done to make this familiar version exciting, but Oramo has the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra play it quite carefully, meticulously, and deliberately, and the effort seems wholly addressed to making a clean, mistake-free recording, rather than to making the symphony come to life. Tempos are cautious and somewhat slower than average, and Bruckner's periodic pauses are held a little longer than necessary to allow the sound to completely clear the air, so the performance comes off as fussy and the recording seems too tightly controlled. Beyond this complaint, there really aren't any slips, so anyone who wants a pristine Third should be happy with this recording. Of course, the sound quality is phenomenal, and listeners who want sumptuous sonorities, distinct separation of parts, and transparent reproduction could do a lot worse than to try this fastidiously produced SACD.

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