Opinions on the best or your favourite BRUCKNER recordings

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John F
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Post by John F » Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:24 am

Thanks for the further information about the Haas edition of Bruckner 8. The Wikipedia article leans heavily on Benjamin Korstvedt's Cambridge Music Handbook on the symphony, published in 2000; I haven't read it or indeed seen it, but Korstvedt's description of those 8 bars in the finale as appearing to have been composed by Haas himself (evidently it's not completely certain) are specific and detailed enough to be persuasive.

The question is how much this matters, which I guess depends on each person's point of view. For me, if that's the only place that Haas may have inserted music that Bruckner never actually wrote in that form, and if it remained undetected for three generations of performers, musicologists, and critics, it seems to me a tiny thing in an enormous movement of hundreds of bars, in an enormous symphony that plays for nearly an hour and a half.

The big issue about the 1890 edition is the massive cuts Bruckner made, for whatever reason, that arguably unbalance the musical structure and certainly deprive us of some fine music. By restoring those cuts, Haas has provided a viable performing alternative to following either the 1890 edition or the first (1887) version, which is interesting but to my ears clearly inferior in the first and third movements.

In a somewhat analogous case, Prokofiev's Sinfonia Concertante for cello and orchestra includes 8 bars composed by Rostropovich, who worked with Prokofiev on the score and played the premiere. He wrote them at the composer's request, and says that Prokofiev changed a few notes and thereby made an enormous difference. But whatever the circumstances and whatever the effect, we're still talking about music not by the named composer which is embedded in the music and which no one has detected by ear alone as an "alien body."

As it happens, in the decades since Haas's Bruckner editions there has been a notable movement toward restoring composers' cuts in long works with an unusual performance history. The best-known of these involves Verdi's "Don Carlos," which Verdi cut by at least 1/2 hour before the premiere at the behest of the Paris Opéra's management, so that the performance would finish before midnight; he then omitted the first act in Fontainebleau when preparing the final Italian edition. Nowadays the opera is rarely given without the Fontainebleau act, and when Karajan did so at the Salzburg Festival, he was criticized for it. The sentiment these days seems to be that the more of "Don Carlos" is performed, the better, though nobody much misses the ballet music, and I agree with all that.

And then there's Fritz Oeser's edition of Bizet's "Carmen," which includes just about everything Bizet ever wrote for that score, even material that Bizet himself cut for (presumably) dramatic/artistic reasons before the premiere. Conductors are free to include as much or as little of this non-canonical material as they see fit; Bernstein included a lot at the Met in 1972, Solti some judicious choices in his recording, and not a few ignore Oeser's options altogether.

Also, there's a curiosity about editions that has led performers to go back to superseded versions of familiar works, whether for mere novelty or (as with Charles Rosen on Schumann) because they genuinely believe the composer's first thoughts were better. So we've heard Schumann's 4th symphony in its original state, before Schumann rewrote it and improved it in every way.

And who isn't aware of the performances of standard works with "retouches" by famous musicians, such as Mahler's versions of the Beethoven and other symphonies? Of course Mahler was a famous composer and conductor, while Robert Haas was a mere musicologist (and a politically incorrect one as well), but of the two I don't think it's Haas who has put a personal stamp on the music he edited for performance.

All this aside, the Haas version of Bruckner 8 gives me a fuller and more rewarding musical experience than Bruckner's own revised version as edited by Nowak, and this, more than narrowly defined textual authenticity (a will-o-the-wisp in Bruckner anyway), is what I'm after.
John Francis

Seán
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Post by Seán » Sun Feb 17, 2008 6:58 am

sfbugala wrote:
Seán wrote:I bought a copy of the Jochum box set today and I really like it. Celibidache and Guilini are on my list too.
That's what amazes me about Bruckner, and music in general: that you can take a certain set of notes and interpret them so differently. Celibadache's Bruckner is a very acquired taste, but for me it works. If you haven't sampled any from the library or elsewhere, I might suggest you purchase one or two before getting all of Celi's. The slow tempi may turn you off. Since they aren't cheap due to their length, (a few are on two discs), you may opt for just trying one out.
It's that fact that a piece of music may be interpreted and played in so many different ways that attracted me to jazz music many, many years ago. I find that characteristic very appealing with Mahler's and now Bruckner's symphonic music too.
With regard to Celibadache: I am looking for Celibadache's Sixth as recommended by Barry. I'll not get the complete set (yet). Unfortunately we do not have proper library lending facilities in Dublin. Sure we are a nation of philistines!
Seán

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pizza
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Post by pizza » Sun Feb 17, 2008 8:46 am

Seán wrote:
With regard to Celibadache: I am looking for Celibadache's Sixth as recommended by Barry. I'll not get the complete set (yet). Unfortunately we do not have proper library lending facilities in Dublin. Sure we are a nation of philistines!
There is no Celibidache complete set that I'm aware of. The EMI set consists of the 3rd through the 9th with the Munich PO. They're all extremely slow performances and you could almost copy out the score at that pace! In addition to the 6th, the 4th is superb. There is also a DG set of the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and the 7th, 8th and 9th with the Stuttgart Radio SO and the Swedish RSO (playing the 4th) which I've never heard, and in reviewing their timings they seem pretty normally paced.

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Post by CharmNewton » Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:28 am

John F wrote:Thanks for the further information about the Haas edition of Bruckner 8. The Wikipedia article leans heavily on Benjamin Korstvedt's Cambridge Music Handbook on the symphony, published in 2000; I haven't read it or indeed seen it, but Korstvedt's description of those 8 bars in the finale as appearing to have been composed by Haas himself (evidently it's not completely certain) are specific and detailed enough to be persuasive.
I had second thoughts about stating that Haas had composed passages for the 8th as I couldn't remember where I'd read it, only that it was argued convincingly. It turns out that thw Wikipedia article is pretty good. :)
John F wrote: The question is how much this matters, which I guess depends on each person's point of view. For me, if that's the only place that Haas may have inserted music that Bruckner never actually wrote in that form, and if it remained undetected for three generations of performers, musicologists, and critics, it seems to me a tiny thing in an enormous movement of hundreds of bars, in an enormous symphony that plays for nearly an hour and a half.
This is a good point. Haas' restorations come and go and the work goes on and we're free to like them or not. But how would Bruckner feel about them? While we will never know, it's probably pretty fair to say that he wouldn't like it if only out of respecting what he wrote. Which isn't to say he was happy about the 1890 edition, either. But he did sign off on that one. Bruckner wasn't averse to going back to earlier works and revising them and he might have re-visited the 8th. From our perspective the differences aren't large but to Bruckner they may have been huge. He'd probably be happy that we are still listening to his music as well.

John

Barry
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Post by Barry » Sun Feb 17, 2008 11:53 pm

I think this may be the same performance of Celibidache and the Munich Philharmonic in the 6th that EMI released and that I recommended earlier:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-VNJxTNmuQ
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John F
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Post by John F » Mon Feb 18, 2008 4:00 am

How would Bruckner feel about Haas's edition of the 8th? Actually we can make a pretty good guess, because he allowed others such as Nikisch, Löwe, and the Schalk brothers to do far more extreme things with his earlier symphonies and published the results. He would have preferred his own originals to have been published, and he preserved them so that they might be some day, as indeed they have, thanks to the Bruckner Society and its first editor Robert Haas. (Haas's editions of the other symphonies are exemplary, as I understand it, and were replaced by Nowak's for political rather than musicological reasons.)

This aside, Bruckner's true reasons for those deep and, I think, disfiguring cuts in the longest movements of the 8th are not clear. Part of the debate about Haas's restoring those cuts is over his claim that Bruckner was put into a defeatist state of mind by the incomprehension and rejection of the symphony by Hermann Levi, who was to have conducted the premiere, and yielded to bad advice by Josef Schalk. The thinking might have gone, Levi says the symphony is too long? Not by my standards it isn't, but maybe he's right, and anyway it isn't going to be performed unless I shorten it, so I'll whack out some chunks of the score for him as Schalk suggests and maybe later I can put it back. No, I wasn't there, <grin> but while none of this can be proved, I think it's arguable and a sufficient basis for Haas's restoring those cuts, at least as an alternative to using the 1890 version.

This was in 1890 and by then Levi was no longer conducting in Munich; eventually Hans Richter conducted the premiere in 1892, with further cuts and alterations by Schalk & Co., which Bruckner allowed to be published. By then he had only 4 more years to live and was unable to finish his 9th symphony, let alone revisit the 8th yet again. So that's how he left it.
John Francis

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Post by Darryl » Wed Feb 20, 2008 10:41 am

Lance wrote:Bruckner's Symphony No. 7, however, is my all-time favourite work of his. Having heard many recordings on LP and CD, ...
Lance, have you heard the Giulini/VPO 7?

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Post by Chalkperson » Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:03 pm

Barry wrote:I think this may be the same performance of Celibidache and the Munich Philharmonic in the 6th that EMI released and that I recommended earlier:
Hey Barry, i'm sure you are a very good guide where food is concerned but your feelings on certain Bruckner recordings are IMHO a little off, given that I usually agree with most things you recommend (except Simon and his Rattle) I purchesed two Celibdache recordings, Bruckner 4th and 6th and was really looking forward to hearing them as I had never felt any reason to buy any of his discs, just a feeling nothing else...so I got on to Arkiv Music and waited with baited breath, they arrived and I rushed to put them on but boy do they suck IMHO...I have never heard anything that bad before, I like a lot of Giuseppe Sinopoli's recordings he is no stranger to slow playing but nothing he ever did is as bad as Celi's Bruckner...sorry to be so negative but I tried three times with each disc to get to enjoy them but they just sounded bad...on another note I watched a documentary last night about the Berlin Philharmonic and it's decision to keep playing during WW2 and was surprised to learn that Celibdache replaced Furtwangler when he left Germany just before the end of the War, I guess the Berliners liked him more than I did...
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Post by Barry » Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:12 pm

Chalkie,
I'm a very strong believer that one of the good things about these boards is that if you pay close enough attention to what people recommend over a long period of time, you can get a good idea of whose tastes run similar to yours and whose recommendations you may want to avoid. Heck and I have been posting on the same boards for probably around a decade now, and we both know that we'll rarely like anything the other one does.

Having said that, I think I only recommended the 6th for Celi. It's the only one from that set that I've held on to; although I do like his 7th with the BPO from the early 90s. And I still regard that 6th as my single favorite recorded performance of any of the Bruckner symphonies. Maybe it's a performance that one either loves or hates. I say that because I've seen it raved about by many people on different boards over the years. It's one of the more recommended Bruckner sixths out there. But I know there are a lot of people who just can't take Celibidache. And I've had a very difficult time with some of the things I've heard by him too. Just not this 6th. As I said, at least some of it is available for viewing on Youtube, so anyone thinking about whether to get it can give it a test run first.
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Post by Chalkperson » Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:11 pm

Barry wrote:Chalkie,
I'm a very strong believer that one of the good things about these boards is that if you pay close enough attention to what people recommend over a long period of time, you can get a good idea of whose tastes run similar to yours and whose recommendations you may want to avoid. Heck and I have been posting on the same boards for probably around a decade now, and we both know that we'll rarely like anything the other one does.
You did only recommend the Sixth, somebody else recommended the Fourth, I rarely comment like this as I am very open to most Conductors/Composers but occasionally I just can't believe how much I dislike something, the previous one was a Bach Da Gamba Sonatas disc by Angela Hewitt so I figured I may as well let you know I thought it sucked...as I say I agree with you almost all of the time that's why I gave it a try...
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Post by slofstra » Sat Mar 08, 2008 1:33 am

Just a small footnote on van Beinum's love for Bruckner. Van Beinum died in 1959 of a massive heart attack suffered while rehearsing the CO after a hectic schedule of some months.
"The funeral ceremony was private, although it was broadcast by television. That same evening a memorial concert was led by Bernard Haitink ... The programme included .. the adagio of Bruckner's Eighth Symphony, which had been Van Beinum's favourite piece throughout his life (Notes to The Radio Recordings)."
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Post by Chalkperson » Sat Mar 08, 2008 4:01 am

And I still regard that 6th as my single favorite recorded performance of any of the Bruckner symphonies.
I know you share my passion for Bruckner so when you wrote this I was expecting the Second Coming or at least something like it, thus the passionate post...
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Post by JPS » Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:53 am

Barry wrote:As I've alluded to, there are two distinctive Bruckner styles. While certainly some people like both, it's not unusual for someone to prefer either the slower approach, with more blended, almost organ-like textures (some people call this the cathedral style of Bruckner performance), or an aggressive approach, with faster tempos and often more blaring brass and less blended orchestral textures. You may want to get one of each for a few of the symphonies and decide which approach you prefer or if you like them both.
Very interesting. In which case do you put the complete Jochum recording with the Staatskapelle Dresden, which is now edited by Brilliant Classics, very cheap. I am wondering about ordering it.
Jean-Pierre

Barry
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Post by Barry » Sat Mar 08, 2008 12:48 pm

JPS wrote:
Barry wrote:As I've alluded to, there are two distinctive Bruckner styles. While certainly some people like both, it's not unusual for someone to prefer either the slower approach, with more blended, almost organ-like textures (some people call this the cathedral style of Bruckner performance), or an aggressive approach, with faster tempos and often more blaring brass and less blended orchestral textures. You may want to get one of each for a few of the symphonies and decide which approach you prefer or if you like them both.
Very interesting. In which case do you put the complete Jochum recording with the Staatskapelle Dresden, which is now edited by Brilliant Classics, very cheap. I am wondering about ordering it.
It's been years since I've listened to most of that set, and actually, there are probably three or four symphonies from it that I've never heard (I generally don't buy boxed sets of symphonies unless it's someone like Brahms or Schumann, where they only had four of them). I know Jochum takes the more aggressive approach with the fourth, and certainly didn't fit into the slower, cathedral style for most of his career, although his final 5th with the Concertgebouw from 1986 comes in at around 83 minutes and is much slower than all of his earliler recorded performances of that symphony. I'll also tell you that none of my favorite Jochum Bruckner performances are in that EMI set (the one on Brillian Classics now), at least among those I've heard. I love his 4th and 9th with the BPO from the DG set and that 5th with the Concertgewbouw on Tahra (not the one on Philips). He also made a very fine 7th with the BPO in the early 50s for DG that was also rereleased on Tahra. But I may be in the minority. I know that Dresden set is very popular. If you're looking to get to know the symphonies, you could certainly do much worse than either Jochum set.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

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Post by JPS » Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:38 pm

Barry wrote:If you're looking to get to know the symphonies, you could certainly do much worse than either Jochum set.
That is the point. I have heard this music very seldom, and I try to fill this gap. Thank you a lot for all details.
Jean-Pierre

Seán
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Post by Seán » Sun Mar 09, 2008 7:39 pm

JPS wrote:
Barry wrote:If you're looking to get to know the symphonies, you could certainly do much worse than either Jochum set.
That is the point. I have heard this music very seldom, and I try to fill this gap. Thank you a lot for all details.
JP I bought the Jochum set on the strength of recommendations that I received here and I have no regrets.
Seán

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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Tue Mar 11, 2008 3:04 pm

I became a Bruckner fan perhaps 7 or 8 years ago now. His music is immensely complex, and perhaps more than most composers, almost requires one to leave modern consciousness behind to really encounter him. But that is part of the Bruckner appeal and one of the aspects of his genius. For the same reasons, I have difficulty rating competing performances of his work.

Having said that, I will mention the recent DVD recording of Abbado conducting the Bruckner 7th Symphony at the Lucerne Festival in 2005 which I enjoy a great deal. Apparently, if I am understanding correctly, the Lucene Festival Orchestra is connected to, or working in a cooperative arrangement with, the Mahler Orchestra.
Cyril Ignatius

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Post by Barry » Tue Mar 11, 2008 3:29 pm

Cyril Ignatius wrote: ... Having said that, I will mention the recent DVD recording of Abbado conducting the Bruckner 7th Symphony at the Lucerne Festival in 2005 which I enjoy a great deal. Apparently, if I am understanding correctly, the Lucene Festival Orchestra is connected to, or working in a cooperative arrangement with, the Mahler Orchestra.
I've been thinking about getting that DVD for a while. Those same forces also have a Bruckner 4 out on CD which is pretty good (although I prefer Abbado's earlier recording of the fourth with the VPO).

And speaking of DVDs, this DG set with Karajan and the VPO performing the 8th and 9th is due out soon and is highly recommendable, at least for the 8th. I've never seen the 9th. But I was able to see the 8th via download and I have to say that it will likely become my favorite commercially released performance of that symphony when it comes out. The pacing is just right for me (not extremely slow, but not fast .... I think it's around 84 minutes), the climaxes are all nailed and the VPO has a wonderful sound for this music. I prefer it slightly to the DG CD of the 8th with Karajan and the VPO, which is outstanding in its own right and which is oddly enough the same performance that's out on a Sony DVD; but is different than this new DG DVD. It's also from about a decade before the later DG CD/Sony DVD performance and was recorded live in the St. Florians Cathedral.

http://www.mdt.co.uk/MDTSite/product//0734395.htm
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"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by Seán » Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:08 pm

Cyril Ignatius wrote: Apparently, if I am understanding correctly, the Lucene Festival Orchestra is connected to, or working in a cooperative arrangement with, the Mahler Orchestra.
The Mahler Chamber Orchestra forms the backbone of the Lucerne. Abbado brings in leading musicians from other orchestras and from other ensembles too.

http://e.lucernefestival.ch/page/conten ... 09&ID=2569
Seán

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Post by slofstra » Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:26 pm

I've been listening to a bit of Bruckner's choral work the last few days. It's quite grandiose and impressive. I have a 'Te Deum' with Haitink, but last night I enjoyed a new CD (new to me) on Hyperion with Matthew Best. The pieces are 'Te Deum' and one of his Masses. Other than a little foursome singing that seemed misplaced in the grand scheme of things and a little too rough and ready, this is a most impressive recording. The sound is BIG, cathedral BIG. Interesting to compare with the Deutsches Requiem. Bruckner uses the standard Latin text, lots of full throttle singing, deep pedal notes. Long lugubrious melodic lines.

Any thoughts on great recordings of his choral work.

Brendan

Post by Brendan » Tue Mar 11, 2008 7:58 pm

I like Jochum in these pieces (Masses, plus Te Deum and Motets), as well as Celibidache's Mass in F minor.

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Post by Chalkperson » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:15 pm

oooops... :oops:
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Post by Chalkperson » Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:29 pm

The disc you are listening to is a great record but Eugen Jochum recorded all the Choral Music for DG, the Three Masses are on an Oiginals Double CD and I also like both Philippe Herreweghe and Polyphony doing the E Minor Mass and some of the Motets, and from our friends at Brilliant an SACD by The Chamber Choir of Europe with Nicol Matt doing the First Mass, also on SACD a very fine disc on MDG of all the Motets by the Czech Philharmonic Choir and Petr Fiala...
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Post by Fugu » Thu Mar 27, 2008 2:33 am

david johnson wrote:There is only ONE #6...Bongartz/Gewandhaus!
Pity the ears that have not heard it.

dj
I tried to find the OOP title in Japan, to no avail. Can you provide a CD-R of it? I'll pay for the trouble.

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Post by anasazi » Sun Mar 30, 2008 7:47 pm

My favorite complete set is the Haitink CO set on Philips. So no, I don't prefer the tempos toooooooo expansive. I also enjoy many individial recordings, particularly Klemp. with the 4th and 6th. I also like some of the Wand recordings, but even so, his are not my favorite tempi.
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Post by TopoGigio » Sun Apr 20, 2008 2:00 pm

Darryl wrote:
Lance wrote:Bruckner's Symphony No. 7, however, is my all-time favourite work of his. Having heard many recordings on LP and CD, ...
Lance, have you heard the Giulini/VPO 7?
Any Seventh is good...:mrgreen:
No wonder going to 1942/49 issues...
better 1928 Horenstein !
Last edited by TopoGigio on Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by lismahago » Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:45 am

Seán wrote:Unfortunately we do not have proper library lending facilities in Dublin. Sure we are a nation of philistines!
Have you tried the Music Library in the ILAC centre, Seán? They lend CDs and scores and books about music. I started my musical education at the Music Library in the LP days when it was in Kevin Street: I joined illicitly at 14: you were supposed to be 18!
Ciaran

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Post by Seán » Mon Apr 21, 2008 7:00 am

lismahago wrote:
Seán wrote:Unfortunately we do not have proper library lending facilities in Dublin. Sure we are a nation of philistines!
Have you tried the Music Library in the ILAC centre, Seán? They lend CDs and scores and books about music. I started my musical education at the Music Library in the LP days when it was in Kevin Street: I joined illicitly at 14: you were supposed to be 18!
Hi Ciaran, no I haven't. I must pay them a visit. I do recall that a few years ago I rang Dublin Corporation - I think - only to be told that they dpn't lend out CDs anymore. I look older than 18, so I will not have a problem there. I use to be a member of the Library on Kevin Street too. Thanks for the information.
Seán

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Post by lismahago » Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:06 am

Seán wrote:...a few years ago I rang Dublin Corporation - I think - only to be told that they dpn't lend out CDs anymore. I look older than 18, so I will not have a problem there.
Hmm.. it's a while since I used it: maybe my information is out of date! However, their website says they lend CDs.
Ciaran

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Post by stenka razin » Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:36 am

Bruckner is one of my favorite composers. He is the summit for the 19th century Symphony.

I have just about every Symphony cycle, plus individual Symphony performances on CD. I even have Symphony No. 0 and the so called Symphony No. 00. As far as editions are concerned I have multiples of the Haas, Schalk and 'original' versions of Bruckner Symphonies

My favorite Bruckner conductor because of his heart felt and impulsive
manner is the great Eugen Jochum, who I saw conduct the Boston Symphony and met after a Bruckner 8th at Tanglewood in the mid 1970's.
Jochum's DG and EMI sets are highly recommended, even though I have room in my heart for Karajan and many others, too.
I will write more when I do a Bruckner Discography some time in the near future, hopefully. :D

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Post by Bro » Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:59 pm

I really like Szell's fierce, classically trimmed, yet surprisingly passionate readings. Anything by Klemperer is always of interest. I really can't stand the way Furtwangler mushes and mauls this music. I seem to remember my first Bruckner experience as a student, Eugene Jochum's mono 9th on DG. Worth seeking out, although a little over romanticized for my tastes.

Bro

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Location: Dublin, Ireland

Post by Seán » Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:46 pm

lismahago wrote:
Seán wrote:...a few years ago I rang Dublin Corporation - I think - only to be told that they dpn't lend out CDs anymore. I look older than 18, so I will not have a problem there.
Hmm.. it's a while since I used it: maybe my information is out of date! However, their website says they lend CDs.
I will follow up on that. It would be good to be able to borrow CDs and then buy a copy of the recording if I like it. I think that it was Kevin Street Library that told me they had ceased lending records, it's a few years ago now so I'm not sure. Thanks again for the information Ciaran.
Seán

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler

Seán
Posts: 5339
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:46 pm
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Post by Seán » Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:47 pm

Bro wrote:I really like Szell's fierce, classically trimmed, yet surprisingly passionate readings. Bro
Speaking of Szell I got a copy of his VPO Bruckner 7 recording and listened to it tonight.
Seán

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler

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