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Ralph Moore
MusicWeb International, April 2018

These are pacy, sharp-edged accounts; string tone could sometimes be fuller, but we are not dealing with one of the great Rolls Royce, Austro-German orchestras here, just a very talented second-rank band. I occasionally heard a slight edge on the sound, which is not quite as rich and full as that of the earlier recording of the Ninth—although it has the same production team, if not the same location. Mystery is sacrificed to drama in Wildner’s tight conception of the work; he builds the sawing string passages of the first movement fiercely, but, to be fair, the Gesangsperiode flows sweetly, and he is flexible enough both to give the pauses proper weight, and the music sufficient time to breathe. He does not fall in to the trap of ignoring the “Bewegt, quasi Andante” instruction in the Adagio but again, the recorded sound itself does not capture the richness of the harmonics of those lovely, meandering string dialogues with the brass, beautiful though their playing is. The bite and propulsiveness of the Scherzo are of a piece with Wildner’s driven approach but there is no lack of Schwung in the Trio. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Michael Cookson
MusicWeb International, December 2004

"Naxos are to be congratulated: These are memorable performances and make for a fascinating Bruckner document."

Victor Carr Jr., December 2004

"With this new release the Naxos catalog now includes all extant versions of Bruckner's much massaged Symphony No. 3. Georg Tintner's imposing account of the 1873 original made a powerful and seemingly irrefutable case for Bruckner's first thoughts. But Johannes Wildner is equally persuasive in his compelling rendition of the second version from 1877. Here Bruckner tamed the sometimes discursive quality of his original inspiration, giving it a tighter and more or less conventional structure--at least as defined by Brucknerian standards. Though this came at a sacrifice of some of the music's more radical passages, the symphony remains a powerful and affecting work.

Wildner's conviction is immediately apparent in the first movement: Listen as he builds the opening's two great climaxes with arresting force, then infuses the following lyrical second subject with an ingratiating warmth. Fine as the first movement is, it's actually the Adagio and Finale that benefit most from Wildner's probing conducting, as both movements sound with a rare formal coherence married to dramatic impact. As a bonus, the first disc of this double set also includes the composer's intermediate version (1876) of the Adagio.

Bruckner's 1889 revision of the symphony is controversial for its sometimes ungainly melding of his early and late styles, as well as for the cuts--reportedly influenced by Franz Schalk--that gouge out large portions of the finale. However, Wildner miraculously smooths out the symphony's rough edges by adopting swift tempos (the first movement now has lost nearly four minutes), streamlined phrasing, and light textures; he also imparts an early-romantic, almost Mendelssohnian feel that makes this last version sound paradoxically like the earliest, contemporaneous with the Second Symphony.

The Westphalia New Philharmonic members perform with the same enthusiasm and expertise they displayed in their recording of the Ninth Symphony (type Q7058 in Search Reviews). And though the strings still don't match the richness of their world-class competition, the brass project more boldly and surely than before, and the orchestra as a whole cultivates an authentic yet distinctive Bruckner sound. Naxos' recording offers impressive clarity and dynamic range, though the dry hall acoustic doesn't provide much warmth. No matter--the heat generated by Wildner and his players more than compensates."

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