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Bruckner: Symphony No. 2 - Janowski

Bruckner: Symphony No. 2 - Janowski

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186448

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Orchestral


Bruckner: Symphony No. 2 in C minor

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande
Marek Janowski (conductor)

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Review by Graham Williams - June 17, 2013

Marek Janowski's consistently fine cycle of Bruckner symphonies for PentaTone continues with this release of the 2nd Symphony – a work seemingly discussed more often for its many versions and revisions rather than its undoubted musical strengths.

There are effectively four versions of this symphony that Bruckner began in October 1871 and completed in September 1872. These are:
The original of 1872
The original performance version of 1873
The performance version from 1876
The revised version of 1877

However, the revisions, corrections and alterations made by Robert Haas (1938) and Leopold Nowak (1965) in their editions of the above also add further decisions for interpreters of this score to make.

For this new recording Marek Janowski has chosen to perform the 1877 version of the symphony in the edition by the Bruckner scholar William Carragan (2007). This eliminates sections of the 1872 score that Haas incorporated in his edition and were also retained by Nowak. The comparative brevity of Carragan's edition of the score coupled with Janowski's urgent pulse means that the playing time of the disc is a mere 54.55. However, such is the quality of the music making that it would be churlish to complain of short measure.

Janowski adopts brisk, but not inflexible, tempi in all four movements of this work and, as in the earlier issues in this cycle, he adopts a fluent and purposeful approach to this early symphony, but one that carries a unerring sense of Bruckner's symphonic architecture.
The second movement, a grave and reflective 'Andante (feierlich, etwas bewegt)', is perfectly paced allowing for some beguiling playing from the wind (and especially the horn) soloists of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande . It is unfortunate that careless proofing of the booklet and jewel case sees this movement marked 'Adante'!

Even judged by the very high standard of the earlier issues the recorded sound is wonderfully spacious and clear with superb internal balances, while the playing of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande is both confident and refined. The acoustic and ambience of the Victoria Hall, Geneva is especially well reproduced – just listen to the timpani in the final minute of the 'Scherzo'.

Janowski's exhilarating and masterly performance of this symphony, the penultimate issue in his cycle, captured in superlative sound quality, can be unhesitatingly recommended.

Copyright © 2013 Graham Williams and HRAudio.net

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Comment by Bruce Zeisel - January 31, 2018 (1 of 2)

Graham gives a very positive review of this. John with 5 stars also speaks glowingly of the Blomstedt disc on Querstand. Sound wise how do they differ? Is this one better articulated, Does it have a smoother high end? Are the tuttis less congested? (etc, etc)

Comment by John Proffitt - February 14, 2018 (2 of 2)

The Blomstedt is in every way superior to the Janowski, IMO. Most importantly, Blomstedt uses the William Carragan edition of the Original Concept version of Bruckner 2, which is a remarkable, visionary score free of the copious changes and cuts found in later versions, later editions. Janowski uses Nowak, which is a cut version of the Symphony with some striking changes in orchestration--most unfortunately IMO substituting a clarinet for the sublime French horn solo at the conclusion of the Adagio/Andante movement. A second factor is the orchestra: the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra is to the manner born, playing Bruckner with deep understanding and superb, idiomatic execution. The same cannot be said, again IMO, about Janowski's OSR--which is technically accurate but lacking in the echt Bruckner character.