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Huntley Dent
Fanfare, November 2018

As he approaches 90, Bernard Haitink continues to duplicate his core repertoire, and this year saw his fourth recording of the Bruckner Sixth Symphony, following an equally superb Mahler Third last year (his seventh!). Far from being retreads, both performances display the conductor at his best, with an understated manner that manages to communicate a deep understanding of the music. © 2018 Fanfare Read complete review

Mark Novak
Fanfare, November 2018

Like Haitink’s excellent traversal of the Beethoven symphonies a few years back with the LSO, he seems to be hitting all the right notes in his golden years as a pre-eminent conductor. This Bruckner performance is very satisfying and tops his previous forays with this symphony, and the sound, captured in a live performance, is excellent. © 2018 Fanfare Read complete review

Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, May 2018

This is the third Bruckner Sixth from Bernard Haitink that I am aware of. It is also his best—and one of the better recordings of the work if you like the style.

Haitink varies his approach in Scherzo. Bruckner scherzos can seem repetitive, but this one keeps your ears alert. The spirited sections move along nicely with sprightly woodwinds, and the trios are fittingly slower and more pointed. Note also the warm but ringing horns.

Here a great Bruckner orchestra plays with affection, wisdom, and respect in a true German lyrical manner, always singing and adding power as called for to produce a very enjoyable Bruckner Sixth. Haitink had turned 88 when he made it, but there is no sign of aging here. The sound is as good as the performance. © 2018 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Huntley Dent
Fanfare, March 2018

In 2016, Haitink returned to the Mahler Third for the seventh time, counting audio and video versions, and far from causing annoyance at such needless duplication, that reading, with the same orchestra and label as here, felt like particularly special. In old age some conductors become liberated and simpler in their approach. If we’re lucky, this releases a sense of uncomplicated joy in the music. It’s an intangible quality, I’ll admit, but I felt it in Haitink’s Mahler Third, and I feel it again in this performance, which also boasts exceptionally clear recorded sound that reaches deep for inner detail. All told, I’d place Haitink’s fourth Bruckner Sixth in the top echelon and wouldn’t argue with anyone who made it a first choice for its combination of tenderness, wisdom, and nobility. © 2018 Fanfare Read complete review

BBC Music Magazine, March 2018

The music feels fresh, alert, expressive at all times, whether in moments of joy, mystery or the darkest desolation. © 2018 BBC Music Magazine

Christian Hoskins
Gramophone, February 2018

The playing of the solo horn in bars 75-76 of the Adagio is especially memorable, bringing a Mahlerian feel to this particular passage, and the Trio of the Scherzo is richly atmospheric. The performance of the finale is also spirited and persuasive… On balance, this is the recording to choose for anyone wanting to hear Haitink in this symphony. © 2018 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

Ralph Moore
MusicWeb International, January 2018

I find this to be one of the most fascinating and successfully recorded of Bruckner’s symphonies despite its reputation as a “problem” symphony and its comparative neglect in concert halls, and one susceptible to a marked variation of tempi without any compromise on the part of the listener’s enjoyment; I would happily take virtually any of those named above to my desert island.

…this must rank amongst the most successful of Haitink’s forays into Bruckner. He is known for humorously enquiring after a performance whether it was “too Dutch”—i.e. too “sensible” and “moderate”—but there is no danger of that here.

The “maestoso” opening of the first movement must be urgent and thrilling yet numinous, …This is an urgent, purposeful, even youthful reading; however, grandeur is maintained by dint of the sumptuousness of the orchestral playing, which maintains a noble majesty despite the propulsiveness of the phrasing.

The Scherzo is wonderfully sharp and rhythmically energetic, without contravening Bruckner’s marking “Nicht Schnell”, and marked by superb balance and interplay amongst the different banks of instruments. The horns in particular distinguish themselves in the Trio section by some gloriously euphonic playing. © 2018 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Colin Anderson
Classical Ear, January 2018

This coherent account is especially eloquent in the slow movement, music bearing a heavy emotional burden.

Bernard Haitink stresses the Classical lineage of Bruckner’s wonderful Sixth Symphony. Tempos are ideally chosen in themselves and in relationship with one another. Yet the Majestoso marking of the first movement is not undermined despite the music moving along, and expressive niceties and intensities are cannily catered for. This coherent account is especially eloquent in the slow movement, music bearing a heavy emotional burden; …The scherzo strides forth determinedly and the trio is given intent, shape and pastoral benediction. The finale is similarly in search of a goal—and finds it. © 2018 Classical Ear

David Hurwitz, January 2018

…the whole performance acts as a tonic to the modern tendency to conduct Bruckner as an experiment in sluggishness: slow, slower, and as slow as humanly possible. The composer considered this work to be his “boldest” symphony, and Haitink clearly got the message. The Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra plays magnificently, the warmly burnished brass riding a rich cushion of strings–noble, expressive, grand but never crude. It’s the genuine Bruckner sound, while the engineering does the interpretation full justice. A great release. © 2018 Read complete review

Michael Cookson
MusicWeb International, November 2017

…Bernard Haitink conducts the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in a performance of the Sixth that can stand comparison with the finest recordings in the catalogue. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Dan Morgan
MusicWeb International, October 2017

…[Haitink’s] Maestoso is characterised by startling clarity and a powerful sense of purpose. The lower strings have exceptional body, and the testosterone-fuelled timps are simply splendid. Even more important, Bruckner’s paragraphs are nicely segued and not, as so often happens, needlessly parenthesised. Most striking, though, is the very strong pulse, notably in those timp-laced tuttis; this is the heartbeat of a strapping young yeoman, alive to life and all its possibilities. That youthful vigour is underlined by the bright-eyed playing and sound. And those horn figures? Well, they’re no less magical than Klemperer’s, the movement’s final peroration as emphatic as I’ve ever heard it.

The Adagio is certainly feierlich, yet it’s also mobile and wonderfully transparent; indeed, Haitink drives, details, shapes and terraces this music with a sure and steady kill born of decades on the podium. There’s not a flat spot anywhere, and the unfolding narrative—so full of gentle incident—is quietly compelling from start to finish. If the quality of the BRSO’s playing here is an index of their respect for this conductor—have the closing bars of this movement ever sounded so rapt?—then they must venerate him like no other. Really, this is music-making of the highest order, caught on the wing and completely free of pulled perspectives or audience interruptions.  

Surely this performance can’t get any better, I thought. Oh, but it can, and it does. The Scherzo is as ebullient—and as skittish—as any, and the interplay of instruments is superbly rendered in Peter Urban’s deep, wide and realistically balanced recording. There’s wit and wonder too, Bruckner’s bucolic tunes bouncing around like echoes in a sun-dappled valley. © 2017 MusicWeb International Read complete review

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