- Symphony No. 00, in F minor ("Study Symphony"), WAB 99
Audiences find the early symphonies of Anton Bruckner to be mostly unfamiliar, despite the valiant efforts of several conductors to promote them. Of these works, the "Symphony in F minor, Study Symphony" (1863), sometimes misleadingly called the Symphony No. 00, is perhaps the most overlooked, under-performed, and least typical of the cycle, due to being heavily derivative of Weber, Mendelssohn, and Schumann, and lacking the obsessive repetitions, fanfares, chorales, and other instantly recognizable features of Bruckner's mature works. Yet listeners who might appreciate a "lighter" Bruckner may find the "Study Symphony" to be at least pleasant and appealingly melodic, if not especially inspired. Gerd Schaller leads the Philharmonie Festiva in a wholly sympathetic and committed performance, and the straightforward interpretation is delivered with a gentle touch. One might even suggest that Schaller displays a certain affection for this underdog, because his warm treatment helps to make up for the general lack of fire in the symphony, which had its origin as an exercise in form and orchestration. Even so, the robust Scherzo is worth sampling, if only to hear a hint of the Bruckner to come. The live recording is impressively clear and colorful, and the noiseless sound quality is comparable to the best studio recordings.