- Composer: Bruckner
- Audio CD (April 1 1998)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Ncl
- ASIN: B0000060D5
- In-Print Editions: Audio CD
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #160,978 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Symphony No. 2
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Symphonie n° 2, WAB 102 / Orchestre Symphonique National d'Irlande, dir. Georg Tintner
Odd that, even now, Bruckner's Second Symphony is often left out of the reckoning. It's a transitional work in many respects, although the clear, powerful outlines of the mature symphonist are already in evidence, while the content is of a high quality. The wistful opening theme in the strings, the "Adagio"'s pastoral mysticism--such music could only be by Bruckner, although the expression is less monumental than it later became. Like several other of his symphonies, there's more than one edition: Georg Tintner gives you the original version, which means not just all the music, but the orchestration as Bruckner conceived it in 1872. The work emerges with a rhythmic incisiveness worthy of Schubert--and not even undertones of Wagner. Although the Ireland NSO may not be world-class, they certainly have the measure of Bruckner's style, but then they also have one of the finest living Bruckner interpreters to guide then through this eventful and life-enhancing work. Even were it three times the price, this disc would be self-recommending. --Richard Whitehouse
Top Customer Reviews
PERFORMANCE: 9 out of 10. RECORDING: 9 out of 10.
THE VERSIONS OF THE 2nd SYMPHONY:
There are 5 versions of this symphony. The first modern edition (by Robert Haas) is a composite of the 1877 version with elements of the 1872 version added. The second modern edition (by Leopold Nowak) apparently only indicates where the 1877 cuts should go and retains an error in the trumpet parts at the end of the first movement. (Often, conductors using the Nowak edition ignore many, if not all, of the cuts.) Since then, William Carragan edited the various versions of the 2nd and his editions supersede those of Haas and Nowak.
Tintner presents us with the original 1872 version (by Carragan). Many of the changes in the later versions involve rewrites, cuts and reorchestrations. Without going into a full discussion of all the changes, it should be said that the 1872 version is superior to the others because:
a) The scherzo comes second as break between the lyrical first movement and the slow movement;
b) The original horn ending of the slow movement is magical compared to the clarinet of later versions; &
c) There are no cuts.
It is true, there is a minor problem of orchestral balance at the very end of the finale, but Tintner overcomes that as well.
This CD lives up to the high standards that Dr. Tintner and Naxos have set. I hope that it will discourage the use of the later versions of this symphony. I heartily recommend the entire series to all those who are unfamiliar with the composer and to comparative "Brucknerheads".
Which is a gosh-darned shame because the second symphony of Anton Bruckner is, contrary to apparent popular belief, a mature, radiantly beautiful, serenly confident work. Though it doesn't plummet and scale some of the depths and heights of the composer's later works, it is, in my opinion, a quiet masterpiece -- more artistically successful, for instance, than the composer's third symphony. And, when it comes to Bruckner's slow movements, though many have tended to single out for praise those included in the later symphonies, those unfamilar with this work might very well be surprised over how achingly beautiful its walking-paced Andante truly is.
Another reason to check out this recording is the inspired original decision by Bruckner to alter the placement order of the Scherzo and Andante. Tintner speculates that Bruckner might have been cowed in succession revisions of this symphony to default to a more classical ordering of the movements out of fear of comparison with Beethoven's 9th (a fear which, fortunately, fled Bruckner when it came time for him to work on his own 8th & 9th Symphonies). Whatever Bruckner's reason for the later change, the original ordering of his 2nd Symphony is truly more effective, with the buoyantly Haydnesque Scherzo coming between the magisterial serenity of the first and third movements.
Personally, I am in completely in love with this symphony, and Tintner produces a wonderful, customarily sensitive, subtle and beautiful performance. Just buy it and enjoy!
The Eichorn recording was also released coupled with rehearsal sessions (of 1872) on a second disc. Either way, Eichorn and his orchestra are equal to the challenge Tintner offers -- but Tintner on Naxos has a decided advantage in price. If you already own one of the Eichorn versions there is no reason to replace it. For those first coming to this version of the Bruckner Second, choose Tinter without a moment's reservation... !
His skills at balance and getting the right colours for the music are much in evidence here. This Irish orchestra is incredible as well and perform with such conviction one almost thinks it's the Vienna Philharmoncic.