RAM Soloists Ensemble/Pinnock
Bruckner Symphony No 2
Some months ago, Linn Records' engineering genius, Philip Hobbs, tipped me off that this disc was coming. It's the second in a new series featuring performances of works in a "stripped back" presentation as pioneered by Arnold Schoenberg's Society For Private Musical Performance. (The first in the series featured Mahler Four.) For this new disc, which extends Schoenberg's vision, composer Anthony Payne was commissioned to write a reworking for expanded chamber group of Bruckner's Second Symphony. A fascinating choice: Bruckner Two is rarely played. For rabid Brucknerphobes or agnostics, this is an enthralling reconsideration of the composer. With the Royal Academy of Music Soloists and conductor Trevor Pinnock performing with striking acuity and a keen sense of idiom, the music sounds authentically Brucknerian, but without the baggage: the sheer orchestral weight and mass. This is gripping stuff. The feeling of bigness is still there, but there's now a light translucence to the music. The disc includes Berg's scrumptious arrangement of Strauss's Wine, Women And Song.