Bruckner: Symphony No. 1 - Haselböck
Capriccio 71 063
Classical - Orchestral
Bruckner: Symphony No. 1, Organ works
Martin Haselböck (Haselbock)
Review by Graham Williams - January 30, 2006
This, as far as I am aware, is only the third recording of the ‘un-revised’ 1866 Linz version of Bruckner’s Symphony No 1, following those made by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski and Georg Tintner a few years ago.
The unique attraction of this one, however, is that it is the first to be played on so-called ‘authentic instruments’.
These include wooden flutes, catgut strings and narrow bore trombones. The notes inform us that Martin Haselböck and the Wiener Akademie even use the instruments purchased by Bruckner for a performance of his Mass in F minor by the court orchestra.
What is not revealed, until you open the insert booklet, is that this is a live recording made in the Musikverein, Vienna on 16 May 2004. The audience, while in the main silent, save up their coughs for the opening minute of the slow movement. This is something that I found became more irritating on repeated listening. The atmosphere of the concert hall is retained between each of the movements (creaks, rustles etc.), but, surprisingly, at the end applause has been (thankfully?) excised.
At the start of the symphony one is immediately aware of the different texture of the sound from what we are used to in the concert hall today. It is leaner and brighter, which gives more clarity to the instrumental lines. The downside is that the opening tramp of the double basses maybe lacks a little weight, and later on the upper strings sound somewhat thin in forte passages. Timpani, as you would expect, are played with hard sticks, but seem rather backward in the overall mix.
Martin Haselböck’s tempi throughout the symphony are swift and he drives the music forward impressively without losing the sense of line so essential, even in early Bruckner. His handling of the Scherzo and Finale is particularly fine and I enjoyed his performance greatly. The Wiener Akademie cope manfully with their instruments although, had this been a studio recording, what occurs at 5.08 in the slow movement would have had a re-take.
The disc is completed by two short organ pieces played by Martin Haselböck on the organ of the Hofburgkapelle, Vienna and superbly recorded.
It is a pity that as the total playing time of the disc is under 56 minutes something more substantial could not have been added such as Bruckner's Overture in G minor.
The rear channels are used very unobtrusively and I found that I enjoyed this SACD just as much in stereo as surround.
Copyright © 2006 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net