Bruckner: Symphony No 2 – review

Swedish CO/Dausgaard

There are just 38 players in the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, and a significant element in the success of the orchestra's recordings of the 19th-century symphonic repertoire – Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Dvořák – has been the extra transparency from hearing that music played with such relatively small forces. Tackling a Bruckner symphony in the same way, though, seems a challenge of a different order, and in this case, I'm not sure the gains outweigh the definite drawbacks. It's certainly revealing to hear Bruckner's textures opened out so that the inner voices are more audible, and the woodwind lines are for once not swaddled in huge pillows of string sound. But the great climaxes do surely need more weight of tone than the SCO can muster, and though conductor Thomas Dausgaard doesn't emphasise the music's grandeur, there has to be at least a hint of it somewhere. It doesn't help, I think, that the symphony has been recorded in a relatively dry acoustic; there's no halo around the orchestral sound, no afterglow through the music's silences. Brucknerians will want to hear the performance, though, if only out of curiosity.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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