BRUCKNER Symphony No 6 (Thielemann)
Towards the end of the Scherzo, the camera catches a viola player giving a smile to a colleague. It’s a rare glimpse of visible delight in a performance otherwise marked by seriousness of purpose and intensity of concentration. This isn’t to suggest that a performance of Bruckner’s music shouldn’t be regarded as a serious undertaking, but there’s a solemnity of approach here that seems to me slightly at odds with the Sixth Symphony’s inherent warmth and vitality.
As with previous releases in the cycle, the playing of the Staatskapelle Dresden is everything one could wish for, both on a soloistic level and as an ensemble unified in a common goal. Melodic lines and inner voices are beautifully articulated, and the blending of the brass is an art form in itself. Thielemann, conducting from memory, leads a well-paced and unmannered reading of the score, attentive as always to Bruckner’s dynamic contrasts. I just wish that the performance offered a degree more engagement with the spirit of the music and not just the letter.
Video director Henning Kasten, who also oversaw Thielemann’s account of the Eighth Symphony, maintains visual interest with a well-chosen mixture of close, medium and distance shots while avoiding the constant use of movement by Agnes Méth in other instalments of the cycle. The camerawork includes a number of interior views of the Semperoper as the orchestra plays, which helps create the impression of being at the performance. The audio quality is impressively wide ranging and open, with plenty of air around the instruments even in the loudest climaxes.