Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Symphony No. 3
(1889 version, ed. Nowak)
Marek Janowski, cond; O de la Suisse Romande
PENTATONE PTC 5186 449 (SACD: 53:20)
Marek Janowski seems to have a pathological aversion to indulgence. He’ll only adjust his tempos when explicitly instructed to do so
by Bruckner, or his editors. Caesuras between phrases are held only until the reverberation has died away. And the orchestral playing, fine as it is, is always strictly controlled from the podium.
That’s not to say that this reading of Bruckner’s Third lacks passion, or even that it is imbued with classical formality. Janowski draws big romantic sounds from his Swiss forces, and the grandeur of the orchestral tone compensates for the occasionally over-disciplined tempos and phrasing. In less competent hands, this could result in a disjointed or paradoxical account, but Janowski is able to make it all add up to a coherent whole. Propulsion and energy are the greatest strengths of his interpretation. The opening of the finale has rarely sounded so alive, with those scurrying strings drawing the ear into the increasingly dense textures. The Scherzo also benefits from the fast pace, and the precision of the brass playing here fully validates Janowski’s tempo choice. The second movement
sounds a little austere under Janowski’s swift and unyielding tempos, but again, the precision and clarity of the orchestral sound allow the music’s inner logic to shine through, and with it all of Bruckner’s underlying passion.
The interpretation here may prove controversial, but the quality of the orchestral playing, and of the recorded sound, deserve universal praise. Technically, the orchestra is in top form. Their balance is finely judged, and their tonal control, especially at the climaxes, is exemplary. PentaTone achieves its usual high standards with the SACD sound, and the Victoria Hall in Geneva provides just enough resonance for the music to sing without ever getting in the way of the detail.
By the time a Bruckner cycle reaches the third symphony, most interested parties will have made their minds’ up about the merits of the project. For those familiar with the previous installments, this is very much in the same vein. Here, and elsewhere, Janowski delivers disciplined Bruckner, but for some reason fails to imbue it with the Schubertesque Classicism that makes Günter Wand’s similarly controlled accounts so endearing. Janowski never makes an interpretive decision that he can’t fully justify by what he finds in the score. Perhaps he is trying to take himself out of the equation in order to put the music first. If so, then it is an acute irony that the Janowski Bruckner cycle is shaping up to be one of the most distinctive of recent times.
FANFARE: Gavin Dixon
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 3 in D minor, WAB 103 by Anton Bruckner
Suisse Romande Orchestra
Written: Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 10/2011
Venue: Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switerland
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