- Symphony No. 1 in C minor, WAB 101
- Symphony No. 0, in D minor ("Die Nullte"), WAB 100
Anton Bruckner's early symphonies are not as widely performed or recorded as his mature works, so Mario Venzago's double-disc on CPO of the "Symphony in D minor," called "No. 0" or "Die Nullte," and the "Symphony No. 1 in C minor" is a stand-out from the nearly unstoppable run of recordings of the "Fourth," "Seventh," and "Ninth." Venzago and the Tapiola Sinfonietta give exceptional performances that have technical polish and expressive warmth, and the charm the musicians draw out of these pieces makes one wonder why they aren't more popular. Certainly, both symphonies approach the later ones in expansiveness and seriousness, and there's more than a little Brucknerian sonic grandeur in these fledgling efforts. Yet even though these are works of the late 1860s, the music is still strongly governed by Classical models, and because the influence of Richard Wagner is absent in the symphonies prior to the "Third," listeners who ordinarily find Bruckner too complicated, heavy, and ponderous may find these lighter works more accessible and enjoyable. Venzago draws out historically informed performances from the orchestra, which has a glossy string tone without much vibrato, distinctive woodwinds, brass, and timpani, and a balanced blend that is heterogenous and brightly hued. In addition to this care in handling tone colors and dynamics, CPO's reproduction is remarkably clear and focused, so the music is wonderfully transparent and easy to follow.