BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 1 in C minor (original 1868 version). Adagio (1876) for Symphony No. 3 in D minor.
Royal Scottish National Orchestra/ George Tintner, cond.

Naxos 8.554430 [B] [DDD]  TT: 75:41


A lucid and startling program note by the late George Tintner flat-out contradicts the official 1995 catalog of the International Bruckner Society, which attributes the "Linz" version of this Symphony to 1866. That one, he stated, was a version Bruckner made after his move to Vienna, during the 1870s (a final version made in 1890/91 was another ill- advised reconstruction of an earlier work urged on him by pupils and putative friends). What Tintner conducted on August 31-September 1, 1998, in Henry Wood Hall at Glasgow, is the absolutely first version that Bruckner himself led at Linz on May 9, 1868, "prepared" by Professor William Carrigan "from the critical report of Robert Haas,"  the Society's first, prewar-2 editor.

The greatest difference will be found in a finale some two minutes longer than the "Linz" version -- a good deal more venturesome harmonically, although structurally haphazard in comparison.  Add to this an alternative "unknown version" of the slow movement of the much-doctored Third Symphony (composed in 1873, first revised in 1877 which remains the preferred version, but botched in 1889/90, the finale especially). This 1876 exercise, quite beautiful in its own right, was "recently discovered" according to Tintner by Leopold Nowak, Haas' postwar-2 successor.

Both are first recordings whose budget price should commend them to compleat Brucknerians. I'm sorry to have to say, however, that a heavy-handed, sometimes even lumsy reading of No. 1, and callow playing, do not pass muster -- the Royal Scots are on plainly unfamiliar ground, and seem often to be sight-reading. These handicaps are further complicated by a loud recording that lets one hear divided violins on either side of the podium, but gets messily congested in climaxes. All one can identify in these passages are the brass.

For the record, Tinter's First is almost 12 minutes longer than my preferred budget edition of No. 1 -- Stanislav Skrovachevsky's of the "Linz" version (pace, Polish readers; this is how his name is pronounced, if not spelled on sleeves and in catalogs). On Bertelsmann's Arte Nova label it has the further bonus of a crack German radio orchestra that knows and savors the music.

R.D. (May 2000)