Roger Norrington

Bruckner: Symphony No. 6

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The Symphony No. 6 in A major is one of the least played and recorded of Anton Bruckner's symphonies, and it deserves far more attention than it gets, especially from anyone who adores the Fourth and worships the Seventh. But one has to wonder if the attention of Roger Norrington is what this underdog symphony needs, since his 2007 recording with the Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR is a pallid affair that might put off prospective admirers. In this performance, Norrington's focus -- nay, his raison d'être -- seems to be an obsession with tidiness that goes beyond clean to an overly careful and even precious reading, at the expense of all grandeur, rawness, passion, and muscularity. The pristine sonorities, brisk tempos, and meticulous rhythms displayed here may be Norrington's idea of an authentic re-creation of what a Bruckner symphony might have sounded like in the nineteenth century, and if the orchestras of Bruckner's time played without much vibrato and little rubato, then perhaps he is providing a valuable service. Yet this performance feels too neat and sanitized to get anyone excited, let alone interested in exploring this neglected work, and the orchestra's pretty sheen seems to fall short of the radiance that really should shine forth, especially in the Adagio. So even if this historically informed performance has cachet with early music buffs, red-blooded Brucknerians will likely have none of it. Haenssler's recording is clean and vibrant, but a bit thin in tone in softer passages.

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