Kent Nagano

Bruckner: Symphony No. 6

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Is Kent Nagano a great conductor of Central European repertoire? Not always, but he has had his moments. Nagano's recording of Mahler's Das Klagende Lied from 1997 was full of passionate intensity, but his Mahler's Eight from 2005 was merely big, loud, and long. His Bruckner's Third from 2004 was full of immense gravity, but, regrettably, his Bruckner Sixth from 2005 is, again, merely big, loud, and long. The intensity of line and concentration on form that characterize Nagano's best performances in this repertoire are far less in evidence here than in his superlative Third. Nagano's opening Maestoso lacks direction so that at the re-transition into the recapitulation, the moment of highest musical drama, the music has no sense of formal inevitability. His central Adagio lacks concentration so that at the hushed final return of the first theme, the music has no sense of spiritual mystery. His closing movements have plenty of drive, but his Scherzo seems only to go in relentless circles while his Finale seems merely in a big hurry to get to the double bars. The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin performs with the same rugged strength it has demonstrated on previous recordings with Nagano, but fails to catch fire here, and the glowing tonal luminosity that is a Bruckner specialty does not illuminate the playing. Harmonia Mundi's sound is very large and very present, but thick in the climaxes.

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