Royal Academy of Music Soloists Ensemble & Trevor Pinnock - Bruckner: Symphonie No. 2 - Words and Music

Bruckner's Second Symphony played one-to-a-part Schoenberg style on the Linn label. Come again? The atonalist formed a music club in 1918 at which symphonies would be played as chamber works. What for? Efficiency and anti-romanticism primarily. The cost was relevant then as now. The slaughter hadn't helped. Does it work? Reduced, the symphony has bold, clean lines and the clarity of a close-up photograph. There is certainly no loss of drama. The marching first movement main theme stands out stark and chiselled, while the second theme is a revelation in its new guise, a lyrical violin and cello melody and counter over a pizzicato bass. It sounds lean and fresh. Pinnock speeds the work along unhampered by slower players, dancing with a lightness in the scherzo which the flute, flying over the semiquavers, seems to enjoy more than any, as it benefits most perhaps from the reduced opposition. Are the RAM Soloist Ensemble students? You wouldn't think so, Sir. Top quality. Pinnock is used to the squashy, indistinct clatter of the harpsichord and tapered Baroque phrasing, and there is something of the Early Music revolution in this new way of presenting old material, the twentieth century editing the nineteenth, the atom against steam. So Pinnock should now do Schoenberg proper, you think? As the great man said of his own music, 'it's not incomprehensible, just badly played'.    

Words and Music
17 March 2014