Bruckner Symphony No 2, Thielemann / Vienna PO

Bruckner Second Symphony could hardly ask for a finer advocate than Thielemann

Bruckner Symphony No 2, Thielemann / Vienna PO

Thielemann's reputation in Bruckner is huge, and deservedly so. We've already seen his Bruckner Seventh in two incarnations, one video (DVD/Bluray, coupled with Wagner Wesendonck-Lieder with Garança), the other on Sony Classical; and remember this will be the Vienna Philharmonic's first Bruckner cycle under one conductor. a measure of the esteem they hold for Thielemann.

We return to Sony Classical for the much lesser-known Second Symphony, heard in the 1877 second version (the first was 1872), in Carragan's edition -  noted Brucknerians who have adopted this edition include Georg Tintner on Naxos and Herbert Blomstedt  on the Querstand label.

The Second is the first of the Bruckner symphonies to begin with a string tremolando:

There is true Bruckner here - listen to the repetitions around the 10-11 minute mark in this first movement. There's also an idea, first stated in the trumpet in bar 20 of the first movement, that permeates the work and provides for the symphony's final peroration.

Neither will those listeners who enjoy languishing in Bruckner slow movements be disappointed. At an almost equivalent duration to the first movement (just over 18 minutes), the Andante is solemn, an immersive experience in this tenderly judged performance:

Thielemann sustains this wonderful movement superbly - it's not the tautest construction Bruckner would muster in his career, but it has moments of utter magic.

The third movement seems to refer to Beethoven's "Eroica" first movement, and also refers back to the "motto" motif/rhythm first heard 20 bars. in. The finale, though, is like a tempest. Marked "Sehr Schnell" (Very Fast), Thielemann conjures up a Dutchman-like storm, and while Bruckner's music seems to offer some sort of respite, Thielemann ensures tension is held taut throughout. Listen out for some remarkable scoring for the woodwind about six and a half minutes in:

Bruckner Second Symphony could hardly ask for a finer advocate than Thielemann. A must if you enjoy the later symphonies - and perhaps have sampled the magnificent Third as a "gateway" symphony to the mature Bruckner (see Classical Explorer's post on that symphony here).