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Penguin Guide, January 2009

With characteristic boldness, Georg Tintner opts here to record the very rare first version, far more expansive than the final, revised version normally heard. Tintner holds the vast structure together masterfully; even though his speeds in the three expanded movements are daringly slow the concentration of the performance, with dynamic contrasts heightened, never falters for a moment. The slow movement too is rapt and dedicated, with pianissimos of breathtaking delicacy. The Scherzo is then fast and fierce, before the spacious account of the finale. Tintner in every way justifies his daring and revelatory choice of text.

David Hurwitz, March 2005

Every so often a recording comes out that is so powerful, so comprehensive in its interpretive vision, that it not only makes the music sound completely new, it forces a complete reappraisal of the music’s overall significance. Georg Tintner’s Bruckner Third is one such recording. In fact, it offers such a fundamental reappraisal of this music that it’s safe to say that until you hear this recording, you have not heard Bruckner’s Third Symphony. In order to understand why this is so, it’s necessary to understand something of the history of the work. First composed in 1873 and dedicated to Wagner, the symphony went through at least two major revisions in the wake of its disastrous Vienna premiere. For the most part, these revisions involved cuts, but also some recasting of the basic thematic material of the first and last movement in a heavier, more “late Bruckner” style. The final, truncated version published by Nowak is the one most frequently played today, but the slightly less cut “middle” version (published by Oeser and later by Nowak) has been gaining favor, and has been recorded by conductors such as Haitink and Sinopoli.

Because Bruckner’s later thoughts on the symphony reflect his more mature orchestral practice, the Third has acquired a reputation as a hybrid, a “magnificent failure” that falls between the Schubertian world of the early symphonies and his monumental later achievement. This view was reinforced by Robert Simpson’s unsympathetic account of the work in his important English language study of the Bruckner symphonies. Eliahu Inbal’s first recording of the original 1873 version for Teldec did nothing to dispel this impression, being a rapid and not especially well played performance that merely set out the notes that Bruckner wrote. Tintner’s spacious, epic conception of the symphony couldn’t be more different. In the first place, it plays for more than 77 minutes, making it Bruckner’s longest symphony after the Eighth (and in fact longer than many performances of that work). But the tempos never sound slow. Rather, Tintner gives each thematic group time to breathe, to present its themes in Bruckner’s characteristic blocks of sound, and along the way we make some fascinating discoveries. The first of these reveals the exposition of the first movement to be the richest and most thematically diverse that Bruckner ever wrote, with no less than four complete subject complexes. The spaciousness of the exposition makes the development section sound unusually concentrated for Bruckner, the movement’s overall form confidently poised and balanced.

After the 30-minute first movement, with its huge contrasts of dynamics and texture, the lyrical adagio comes as the ideal contrast, and Tintner’s gracious phrasing, combined with his ability to find just the right tempo, keeps the music moving with a real sense of inevitability. The Scherzo has never been controversial, and Tintner captures its lightness and rustic dance qualities as have few others, but it’s the finale that offers the final revelation. Here, Tintner’s confidence in Bruckner’s vision pays huge dividends in a movement long regarded as almost a complete bust, formally speaking. With all the “cyclical” elements that were later removed still in place (the recollections of earlier themes), an overwhelming coda (sound clip), and a tempo that gives the music time to reveal its clear derivation from the melodies and accompaniments of the first movement, what we really have is one of Bruckner’s most ambitious and far reaching formal successes, an energetic and satisfying counterbalance to the epic expanses of the symphony’s opening. Tintner’s belief in this symphony reveals it to be not some sort of unfortunate hybrid, but the product of a fully mature (he was 49 when he wrote it!), even radical composer. This in turn makes its initial failure in performance all the more understandable: there was certainly nothing even remotely like it in 1873. The conventional wisdom that the “real” Bruckner begins with the revised Fourth Symphony simply will not stand. It’s this work that is his symphonic manifesto, and no one hearing this performance will doubt it for a second.

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra deserves a huge amount of credit for sharing Tintner’s patience and conviction. The light tone of the strings, in particular, sounds especially “right” in this symphony, and in this case preferable to the darker, heavier sound of many Continental orchestras in this music. Tintner’s Bruckner series has been almost uniformly excellent, but I think that this recording is the finest of them all. Its importance to our understanding of Bruckner’s symphonic achievement is such that it amounts to nothing less than a premiere performance of a newly discovered masterpiece. Recordings this significant happen all too rarely. Don’t miss it. © 2013

John P. McKelvey
American Record Guide, August 2000

"Georg Tintner is in his best form. His performance is Austrian to a fault, contours softened and edges rounded just a bit¡Xnot enough to distort the outlines, but sufficient to impart a ripe, rustic, and romantic atmosphere. In that he is much like Bohm. His tempos are slow but effective, and never extend to the point of dullness or lethargy. The orchestra is quite good¡K[and] obviously in top form, alert and committed. There are no obvious flaws of intonation or ensemble, and the brass sounds mellow and refined.

"Tintner's reading is richly expressive and eloquently rhetorical, with a wide-ranging scale of dynamics and orchestral colors. The sound is warm and spacious, from a somewhat distant perspective. It is rich and blended rather than razor-sharp, but presents the music with adequate resolution of detail. This is surely one of the finest of Tintner's Bruckner recordings, and is recommended without reservation."

Robert McColley
Fanfare, August 2000

"I am delighted that Georg Tintner loved the first version of the Third Symphony, so that we have this affectionate and eloquent recording. And of course the Royal Scottish National Orchestra of Glasgow and Naxos also deserve credit for their essential roles in bringing it to us. No serious Brucknerian (is there any other kind?) should be without it."

Terry Barfoot
MusicWeb International, June 2000

To record the complete Bruckner symphonies is a major undertaking, not to be taken lightly by any of those involved: conductor, orchestra, recording engineers, record company. Therefore it needs to be said at the outset that Naxos has achieved a triumph, nothing less. The only tragedy is that the conductor, Georg Tintner, is no longer alive to witness its full acknowledgement.

Tintner (born 1917), like so many musicians, fled his native Austria before the Nazi threat and made a worthwhile but largely unnoticed career in Australasia, Canada and, occasionally, Europe. These recordings, dating from 1995-98, brought him a recognition that was long overdue. For Tintner’s love and understanding of Bruckner are beyond question. Tempi, phrasing and architecture always feel right, and the structural control of each of the symphonies is never less than assured.

The Symphony no. 3 also features the Scottish orchestra to great effect. This is the original 1873 version, not the later, shortened scores of 1877 and 1889. This version has been recorded only twice before, conducted by Eliahu Inbal and Roger Norrington, but in vision and commitment Tintner outshines them both, adopting broader tempi to magnificent effect. Such doubts as may have persisted as the result of more famous conductors (Bohm, Haitink, etc.) preferring the later editions are simply swept away. The music can satisfy in these revisions, certainly, but this Tintner recording sets a new agenda.

The Bruckner Journal, March 2000

[Tintner] revels in the imagery, grandeur and stillness of the original Third, conducting with total belief in Bruckner’s individuality. Essential listening. © 2000 The Bruckner Journal

Graham Simpson
International Record Review, March 2000

"George Tinter's insights into Bruckner remain as enlightening as ever, with the Third Symphony emerging as few can have envisaged. ... The RSNO strings excel in the Adagio: deep but not striving for profundity. Tintner's unforced coherence makes one wonder why Bruckner doubted his initial thinking, as the two main themes dovetail into each other with an inevitability that allows even the portentous Wagnerisms of the culmination to take their place..."

Music Week, December 1999

"The RSNO's playing has the weight and clarity to deliver a very convincing performance of the 1873 version of the Third Symphony."

Kjell Moe, translated by Lars Johansson

"Another Bruckner original. The real pièce de resistance in Georg Tintners Bruckner series for Naxos has till now been the Second Symphony in its original version. This gave us a new symphony, practically never heard before, a symphonic work which put good but edited versions like that of Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic completely in the shade.

"I suppose you can say that that was hardly an earth-shattering effort. The Second Symphony is the one least often performed of his nine official ones. The reason was obvious: even in its edited form there are obvious weaknesses. Tintners unedited version has put that right.

"Now the time has come for the original version of the Third Symphony. And would you believe it: it has become a symphony in a completely new version. Sure, we recognize some themes, and the horn signal at the opening of the first movement which Wagner liked so much is still there. But taken as a whole the so-called Wagner Symphony is like a new work. If not as revolutionizing as the rarely played Second Symphony, it has the same power and dimensions as that has.

"This makes this recording irresistible to anybody who cares about Bruckner. Granted it is 77 minutes of comparatively heavy symphonic stuff as against the 55 minutes of the heavily edited version (1888/89 version) but that is fine with us. This is such a great symphony that it makes you wonder how the musical world has made do with the abridged and much more tiresome edited version. It seems peculiar to us that, up to now, conductors have kept versions by pupils like Franz Schalk alive instead of that of the composer himself.

"It was Bruckners modesty and uncertainty that made him change his compositions time after time, make cut after cut to shorten his symphonies to what could be considered a playable length and also let others students and publishers play around with his music. It is only in the last three great symphonies, when he has become more assured, that he has kept the music in its original forms, with results that we all know.

"What then is the difference between the original version from 1873 and the versions of 1877 and 1888/89? Above all the dimensions. The first movement is now 30 minutes instead of 20, the second 21 instead of 17 and the last movement 19 instead of 12. With the change of dimensions the symphony as a whole also grows. It takes on a form of stillness and natural harmony with Bruckners great works. His greatness is more evident than before.

"The associations with Wagner is more clear. In the second movement there is a theme from Lohengrin. Their relationship between the two of them is clearly discernible.

"On this recording, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra is playing. Tintner possessed a magical way of making every orchestra he used for this cycle (in addition to the Scottish one, the national orchestras of New Zeeland and Ireland) play like they were gilt-edged Berlin Philharmonics, and this recording most certainly is no exception.

"Tintner died last year, but let us hope there is a recording with him of the First Symphony to conclude his Bruckner series. Even if there isnt, he has his contributed significantly to music history. With his new look Bruckner, he has brought out hitherto unknown music and made it possible for us to enjoy this great symphonist - the greatest one? - in the way he really had intended us to."

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