Bernard Haitink

Bruckner: Symphony No. 6

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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson

As one of Anton Bruckner's more experimental symphonies, the Symphony No. 6 in A major has never been as popular as the Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, "Romantic," or the Symphony No. 7 in E major; consequently, it has been recorded less often than any other of the mature symphonies. Yet this is one of his most intriguing works, insofar as it defies expectations by having no tremolo opening, no unnecessary pauses, few fanfares, and surprisingly little bombast in its relatively compact and direct movements; it seems more abstract and purely musical because it lacks any of the programmatic or biographical associations that affect the other symphonies. Furthermore, Bruckner's rhythmic patterns are more complex and interesting in this piece than in any previous symphony, and his modulations and harmonic choices are decidedly more adventurous, particularly in the increasing use of dissonance to build tension throughout each movement. In this live 2003 performance by Bernard Haitink and the Dresden Staatskapelle, the symphony's unique characteristics are emphasized, so the striking cross-rhythms and ingenious suspensions are always easy to make out, and every detail in the score is conveyed with precision and clarity. This recording has exceptional reproduction with few audience noises (really only audible in the breaks between movements), and the orchestra's dynamic range is extremely wide, so audiophiles will find the sound to be subtle and delightfully nuanced, qualities that are rather hard to come by in live Bruckner recordings.

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