Classical Reissue Reviews
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 3 in D Minor (Nowak Ed.); WAGNER: Tannhauser: Overture and Venusberg Music
Published on May 15, 2005
Sir John Barbirolli conducts Halle Orchestra
BBC Legends BBCL 4161-2 78:40 (Distrib. Koch)****:
Only in 1951 under Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt had the Halle Orchestra
performed Bruckner’s Third Symphony–at least since the 1913 Manchester
appearance by Hans Richter–so it was with a sense of its time being
ripe that Sir John Barbirolli (1899-1970) took up the score in mid-1963
for its presentation at the September 23-24 concerts and the 18
December 1964 recording session at Free Trade Hall. Barbirolli chose
the 1877 reduced version of the score, the edition accepted as the
least padded (with Wagnerian leitmotifs) and most thematically
integrated – although advocates exist for the 1873 original score.
While Barbirolli’s repute in Mahler accords him celebrity status, he is
less well known as a Bruckner acolyte, despite his having added to the
Seventh (from 1939 on) his readings of the Fourth, Eighth and Ninth.
Having cleared the audience section of Free Trade Hall for the
recording session, engineers had the full acoustic of the venue for the
shimmering and exalted sentiments the Halle realizes in this
performance. Long, sustained pedal points and clarion horn calls, along
with a sinewy labyrinthine melodic line in the Adagio, make for some
athletic drama. The bit of laendler theme in the coda could have come
from Dvorak. The relatively unscathed (from the revision) Scherzo is
all business, a whirling dervish of energy with an identifiable
Viennese lilt. The deliciously creamy texture of that Viennese sound
becomes a rich froth in the otherwise hectic final Allegro, beautifully
paced by a master technician and colorist. The Wagner from 3 October
1969 is apt enough, given the Tannhauser influence on Bruckner’s Third.
High voltage Wagner here, with the rather four-square Venusberg music
moved along with tenderness and bustle as required.
- Gary Lemco