Robin Ticciati & DSO - Bruckner: Symphony No. 6 - BBC Music Magazine

Performance 4*
Recording 4*

Bruckner described his Sixth Symphony as his 'cheekiest' - which may simply have been because he liked on 'Sechste' (sixth) and the adjective 'keckste'. Certainly, it contains some of this boldest ideas (nothing could be much cheekier than the way the oboe's keening counter-molody at the start of the deeply moving slow movement is transformed into a positively joyful theme in the finale), and yet few Bruckner lovers would count it among their favourite of his symphonies. Somehow it seems to have all the composer's characteristic gestures, but little of the breathing-space to allow them to unfold with adequate breadth.

Some conductors - Eugen Jochum with the Dresden Staatskapelle, for instance, or Colin Davis and the LSO - compensate for the music's unusual concision with excessively slow tempos. Robin Ticciati takes a generally less stern view: in his hands, the lightly-sprung violin rhythm at the symphony's beginning assumes a positively dance-like guise and the finale's sweeping main melody (unexpectedly set in the minor) has a sweeping urgency that's appropriately unsettling.

It's a performance that made me listen to the work with fresh ears, and prompted me to think that I had undervalued it in the past.

BBC Music Magazine
01 June 2019