At a few seconds under fifty-seven minutes François-Xavier Roth bucks the current trend of ever-expansive Bruckner performances (nowadays the average timing for this Symphony is probably around an hour and ten) and aligns himself with conductors such as Hans Rosbaud and Michael Gielen and their respective recordings (also Eugene Ormandy if I recall his Philadelphia version for RCA correctly). However, the time taken is no indicator of what happens between first bar and last of any reading of anything. Roth, with superb playing and excellent sound (natural perspective, wide dynamic range), never comes across as rushing or skating over details; indeed, he is flexible in pacing, lyrically inclined, and with no lack of emotional drama; plenty of clarity too (violins antiphonal, basses left-positioned), brass embedded rather than dominating, allowing woodwinds to shine through, and the whole account is persuasive and compelling: a first movement that is viewed in-one (owing more to Robert Haas’s edition, although Roth chooses Leopold Nowak’s 2003 publication), then a slow one that avoids stasis – Roth’s light-footedness is welcome and unfailingly shapely, although there’s no lack of intensity – and builds unerringly to a momentous climax, cymbal-capped of course, this being Nowak, and a poignant envoi, complemented by a dashing Scherzo and songful in-tempo Trio, all wrapped by a (here) Haydnesque Finale without denuding solemnity or grandeur, something saved for the ultimate chord. Heartily recommended to all Bruckner enthusiasts – and those who are not – for Myrios MYR030 is an illuminating and important release.

Gürzenich-Orchester Köln – François-Xavier Roth records Robert Schumann’s Spring & Fourth Symphonies [Myrios]