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Bruckner: Symphony No. 3

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 24, 2006
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Symphony No.3 In D Minor

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Frankfurt Radio Sym Orch
  • Conductor: Inbal
  • Composer: Bruckner
  • Audio CD (May 24, 2006)
  • Imported ed. edition
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Apex
  • ASIN: B00008UVC2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #506,927 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAME on April 23, 2007
Format: Audio CD
In 1982 Elihu Inbal made an impression on the clasicla music world with a first-ever recording of Bruckner's original verison of the Fourth Sym. and a smaller impression with the 1873 version of the Third. Both are exciting and well recorded. Inbal made a specialty of Bruckner, and he seems intent on making converts to both original works. Since then quite a few rival recordings have appeared. I've heard the 1873 Third from Norrington (EMI0, who is briks and as ever oriented toward "period" style, as well as its opposite, Georg Titner's measured, grave reading on Naxos. To my ears Inbal makes the strongest case for a work that began its life at a sprawling 65 min. until the composer pruned, compressed, and ended up with a finished result in 1888 that is about ten minutes shorter.

The compression was a great improvement in terms of coherence and structure. Bruckner was constantly learning his craft as an architect, and in his originality he had few predecessorts to follow. The Third, as originally conceived, still has rough joins and unconvincing transitions. Its themes extend beyond their intrinsic interest, and the devlopemnts lack Bruckner's mature instinct for huge spaces. In its later editions, the Third isn't simply compressed but has benefited in al these departments.

Yet there are ways to enjoy the orignal, less coherent and vastly sprawling piece. The key for me was not to expect coherence but to let the music uncoil at its leisurely winding pace, like a river. At 23 min., the first ovement needs much more interesting thematic material than it has (Tintner tries for static profundity by stretching matters out to 30 min., Norrington takes the opposite tack and speeds the movement up to 18 min.
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Format: Audio CD
I regret to say that I have gradually winnowed out all my Tintner Bruckner discs and replaced them with superior - sometimes far superior - accounts such as this one. The main attraction of Tintner's recordings was his attachment to the original versions but his conceptions are usually plodding and joyless and played by less than stellar orchestras, whereas Inbal has a far more adept band in the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and also performs the 1873 version.

The Third has a reputation as "difficult" Bruckner but from my very first hearing of the scurrying semi-quaver theme which opens the symphony - "misterioso", indeed - I liked it much more than its predecessor. A febrile, veiled threat and a restless energy animate Inbal's interpretation from the word go. The brass are magnificent and the big moments riveting - yet Inbal is also capable of generating the magical stillness that eludes Tintner who ends up sounding stilted; the hushed descending figure, just before the recapitulation, at 15'00" is really arresting. The work itself will always sprawl a bit in its original 65 minute incarnation but I do not hear any longueurs under Inbal; he maintains a steady, propulsive beat and rapt concentration. I just wish he'd tone down the very audible vocal obbligato which can be intrusive; that conductor's sing-along indulgence has already made too many of Colin Davis' recent recordings unlistenable for me.

The Adagio is sublime even if it is "too long". String tone could be as lusher and Inbal's groaning obtrudes but once again he brings the same spiritual intensity to the music that characterises Karajan's Bruckner. The prolonged silence at 13'42" and subsequent carillon are thrilling.
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Format: Audio CD
Differing with some others, I think the 1873 version is the best put together of the three (four?) versions of this symphony; the first movement is more logical and continuous, with none of the awkward transitions of the later revisions; the finale certainly makes more sense with the additional story-telling and the "polka" occurring three times instead of two, with its second appearance being part of the development(!). I compare this especially to the ultimate 1889 version, which really seems like "Bruckner's 3rd's Greatest Hits" instead of a complete musical work.

The first movement is my favorite piece of music by Bruckner. In my opinion it is flawless in this original version, and superior to all the other re-makes. AND, no one performs it as convincingly as Inbal. I am especially captivated by the way he builds up the second climax at the beginning of the piece. He is the ONLY one who allows the trumpet and the horn to bray-out loud and clear throughout this passage, and the effect is electrifying. No one else quite makes the repetitions seem so noble and glorious. I also love the soft but distinct timpani towards the end--very, very quiet, yet you can hear every single stroke.

Every tempo in every movement is perfect. Unlike some reviewers' feelings, I do not find Inbal to be just playing the notes. He is quite romantic with his dynamics and phrasing. The first movement has many examples of this. Inbal's tempos are generally brisk, but never uncomfortable. Like Carlos Paita, Inbal always slows down whenever it will enhance a musical passage, and he does this several times in this movement.
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