Saturday night was Welser-Most's penultimate concert with the orchestra and offered, as its main attraction, one of Bruckner's least-known symphonies, No 2 in C minor, only a short while after the LSO completed its own cycle at the Barbican. Since Welser-Most was born in Linz, where Bruckner was cathedral organist, you might expect him to make a special point of understanding the composer, and his recording of one of Bruckner's greatest symphonies, No 5, was reviewed pretty favourably in a recent edition of Radio 3's Building a Library.
At one time, No 2 was known as the "symphony of rests", though that would fit most of Bruckner's later symphonies as well. The method of continuity - Bruckner's detractors might say discontinuity - is typical, with sections marked off from each other, concentrating on their separate themes, as if Bruckner were saying "Now, the next topic", or "To return to the idea I mentioned earlier". In this work's slow movement and finale, Bruckner seems particularly fond of cutting short the chance to relish swelling choruses and climaxes - it's a means of pacing, so that energy isn't exhausted until the end. Still, in the finale, he seems on the brink of consummation so many times, you feel quite drained.
I certainly did after this performance, in which an apparently courteous and unconceited young man galvanised the orchestra - after the Scherzo, there was a palpable "Phew!" from people around me. He also kept well- disciplined ensemble - even, in the slow movement, the very spaced-out violin pizzicati counterpointing the horn tune were pretty well together without his making a fuss to prevent them going "per-lop!" Conducting from a miniature score, he seemed to have mastered it thoroughly, and if the whole work had some of the frustrating qualities of a maze, that's probably in its nature.Reuse content