Bruckner: Symphony No. 3
Performing with: Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
“There never seems to be a dull moment in a Thomas Dausgaard recording. […] as far as I can find in the catalogue, this is the only recording currently available of the 1873 version in hi-res or multi-channel sound. When we put that together with the sheer excellence of the overall recording in every facet, I would have to say that Bruckner fans should add this recording to their library as quickly as possible.”
”Absorbing new account [of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 3] by Thomas Dausgaard and the Bergen Philharmonic … What stands out immediately is the urgency of his pacing—the first movement takes 19 minutes compared with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Staatskapelle Dresden at 26 minutes (Profil). Dausgaard also has strong ideas about orchestral balance, which emerge prominently in the trumpet motto that begins the symphony (and which reminds some listeners of the horn call in the Flying Dutchman Overture). The motto consists of four notes, followed by a second part that rises in four notes. But Dausgaard reduces the prominence of the trumpets and brings up the accompaniment so that it is almost equal. This not only fills out the harmony with a new balance but adds two extra notes to the second part of the theme, as it were.
“…In the slow movement Dausgaard’s timing of 15 minutes continues the urgency felt in the first movement, but he remains true to the marking of Adagio if not to Feierlich (solemnly). This reading is considerably more intense than solemn. In preference to Romantic rubato, Dausgaard uses wide changes in dynamics and emphatic accents as his main expressive devices, which proves very effective—not a moment dawdles. More controversial might be the Scherzo, which is not only fast but fierce. We’re in the range of the ferocity of the Scherzo of the Ninth Symphony. An exaggerated contrast between the softest and loudest music adds to a mood verging on the frenetic.
… here is a performance with a difference, and it stands out in a landscape where hewing to the middle of the road has become more and more the norm.”
Following a visit to Wagner in Bayreuth in 1873, Anton Bruckner dedicated his most recent symphony, No. 3 in D minor, to ‘the unattainable world-famous noble master of poetry and music’, and would later refer to the work as his ‘Wagner Symphony’. Among Bruckner’s symphonies, it is the one with the most complicated genesis: the first version was followed by substantial revisions and it exists in two more versions, from 1877/78 and 1888/89. The first version was never performed in Bruckner’s lifetime – in fact, more than a century passed before the work was heard in the form that Wagner first knew and called ‘a masterpiece’. This is the version that Thomas Dausgaard has chosen to perform, as he and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra follow up on their recording of the composer’s Sixth Symphony, praised in Fanfare for having ‘all of Bruckner’s splendor and tenderness without any excess baggage’. Dausgaard explains the reason for his choice as follows: ‘The original version stands as a monolith … what you go through is musically so strong, swinging between timelessness and drive, despair and ecstasy, divine light and hellish fire, that in the end I feel you have to let yourself go and be won over by it.’
1. I. Gemäßigt, misterioso
2. II. Adagio. Feierlich
3. III. Scherzo. Ziemlich schnell
4. IV. Finale. Allegro