Bruckner: Symphony No. 3 - Blomstedt
Classical - Orchestral
Bruckner: Symphony No. 3 in D minor
Herbert Blomstedt (conductor)
Review by John Broggio - September 6, 2015
Another marvellous account in this immensely valuable series.
Unlike the other complete cycles from Young and Janowski, Blomstedt has the luxury of one of Europe's oldest & arguably one of the finest orchestras on the continent. The range of tone at the Leipzig players disposal is easily demonstrated in the opening pages of the first movement: the opening thematic material morphs from textures that are as gentle as a feather duster to a full-throated rich declamation of intensity without the merest hint of tonal vulgarity. Throughout this movement the orchestra is constantly probing, questioning each other before coalescing around a coherent whole - although clearly well rehearsed by Blomstedt, it sounds completely improvisatory (in a positive manner). The dynamic & tempo gradations applied are so subtly done that the whole has an organic way of changing - unlike lesser accounts, there are no obvious "joins" in Bruckner's musical arguments. The internal balances are also finely judged so that the strings and woodwind are always (just) audible above the brass without the brass having to obviously hold back which makes for a thrilling dynamic range as well as tremendous rhythmic impetus that is sustained from the opening right up until the very end of the movement.
The slow movement follows and despite the "Adagio. Feierlich" marking, Blomstedt manages to find a tempo that respects the instruction and yet the underlying pulse has an unstoppable momentum that builds ceaselessly towards it's denouement, allowing every one of the violins cascade of notes to be heard over a throbbing accompaniment. The Scherzo is even more compelling as the Leipzig players successfully marry the martial rhythms of the opening with the rustic charm of the second subject; the sheer clarity of the strings here is a marvel to behold and a pleasure to the ears. At all times, one cannot but admire the sensitivity the players show to one another and - as a result - the score. This sensitivity (for which one should not mistake timidity) also greatly helps in the finale; the cohesive interpretation from Blomstedt and these players means that passages with "only" a comparatively innocuous walking bass sounds integral to the work, not a structural oddity that it can elsewhere. Fortunately, all the "micro" decisions are set within a "macro" framework that is equally as satisfying as each of the details and the sense of elation in the closing pages is entirely justified, as is the ovation (after a respectful pause) that deservedly greets this performance.
The sound is as perfect as one could expect from a concert performance; for the most part it is almost impossible to detect the presence of an audience and there is absolutely no congestion in the recording at all - all too rare in studio Bruckner recordings, never mind "live" ones! That the recording so readily conveys the radiant tone & seating of this fine orchestra so convincingly, is a joy to these ears and moves the spirit when heard in powerful performances such as these. Unusually extensive notes round off a fine release.
Very strongly recommended, in common with the remainder of this superb cycle.
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