Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 (1881 Version)
Performing with: Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra
Dausgaard, taking fairly swift tempos, and conducting with a strong rhythmic sense, has this enigmatic work bounding along and at least made me understand why Bruckner called it ‘the cheekiest’. Dausgaard has his wind players, especially his oboes and clarinets, getting up to mischief whenever possible…Anyone approaching this work for the first time, and wondering why it has its Cinderella status, should listen to this and will wonder still more.
Dausgaard’s reading is so in-the-moment that if your ears can adjust, he makes the music feel vibrantly alive. The Adagio in this performance is spontaneously phrased rather than solemnly ritualized, which I count as a virtue.
Anton Bruckner wrote his Symphony No. 6 over a period of two years, completing it in September 1881. And for once with this composer, the word completing can be used without qualification: known for his habit of reworking and revising his works, Bruckner for once seems to have been satisfied with the result of his efforts. That doesnt mean that the Sixth has enjoyed a smoother passage to the concert stage than other Bruckner symphonies, however: The only performance in Bruckners lifetime was a partial one, of the two middle movements, and when Gustav Mahler conducted the first full performance in 1899, he made a number of substantial cuts and other amendments. In fact, the true premiere of the Sixth as Bruckner wrote it had to wait until 1935, almost 40 years after the composers death. And the work is still something of a Cinderella in the Bruckner catalogue, with far fewer outings in concert halls or on disc than for instance the Fourth or the Seventh. Bruckner called the Sixth his boldest symphony with a duration of only some 55 minutes it is at any rate one of the shorter, but possibly the composer was rather thinking of the remarkably expansive Adagio or the ambiguous Scherzo, or of the way the so-called Bruckner rhythm (different combinations of a duplet and a triplet) pervades the work. The present disc is the first in a Bruckner mini-series from Thomas Dausgaard and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, appearing together on disc for the first time.
1 I. Majestoso
2 II. Adagio. Sehr feierlich
3 III. Scherzo. Nicht schnell – Trio. Langsam
4 IV. Finale. Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell