Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

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THEHORN
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Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by THEHORN » Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:59 pm

The only Bruckner performances Bernstein ever gave as far as I know were his CBS Bruckner 9th with the NYPO and his live recording of the same with the VPO on DG, one of his last recordings, made just months before his death in 1990. It's hard to believe he's been dead for 20 years !
He also did the 6th with the NYPO ,I believe in the 70s, which I heard on a taped WQXR broadcast, which did not strike me as one of his better performances.
I have the DG 9th, and this is excellent, making one wish he had done more Bruckner with this orchestra.
But I've heard the reason he did so little Bruckner was that he admired Karajan's way with this composer so much he felt he couldn't compete with him.
Stories of a bitter rivalry and mutual dislike between Karajan and Bernstein are an urban legend. Apparently, they both admired each other's conducting very much.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by stenka razin » Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:02 pm

For those CMGers who are curious about this seemingly odd combination...Yes, Lenny is very good with the Bruckner 9th and the VPO. 8) .


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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by diegobueno » Tue Feb 09, 2010 7:15 pm

He really makes it sound like the apocalypse!

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Tue Feb 09, 2010 10:03 pm

THEHORN wrote: But I've heard the reason he did so little Bruckner was that he admired Karajan's way with this composer so much he felt he couldn't compete with him.
Stories of a bitter rivalry and mutual dislike between Karajan and Bernstein are an urban legend. Apparently, they both admired each other's conducting very much.
Karajan tends to get a bad rap around CMG, but he was a heckuva Bruckner and Strauss conductor, and had a bunch of other great recordings in the core repertoire - his 1962 Beethoven 9 & 1964 Brahms 2 come immediately to mind.

I'll have to check out Lenny's Bruckner 9. I wasn't aware that he conducted any Bruckner at all.
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by RebLem » Tue Feb 09, 2010 10:57 pm

I am not a big fan of Bernstein's, but I think his best recordings were the Haydn Paris Symphonies and The Creation, his Beethoven Missa Solemnis (either SONY or DGG), his Mendelssohn Symphonies 3, 4, and 5, his SONY Mahler box, and his Shostakovich recordings. He also did yeoman work reviving interest in the work of Sibelius.
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:10 am

RebLem wrote:I am not a big fan of Bernstein's, but I think his best recordings were the Haydn Paris Symphonies and The Creation, his Beethoven Missa Solemnis (either SONY or DGG), his Mendelssohn Symphonies 3, 4, and 5, his SONY Mahler box, and his Shostakovich recordings. He also did yeoman work reviving interest in the work of Sibelius.
Absolutely, Rob, I feel exactly the same way about him, but, those are all great discs, I don't know the Sibelius but that's no problem either, I only listen to a small amount of Sibelius anyway...
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by RebLem » Wed Feb 10, 2010 4:37 am

Chalkperson wrote:
RebLem wrote:I am not a big fan of Bernstein's, but I think his best recordings were the Haydn Paris Symphonies and The Creation, his Beethoven Missa Solemnis (either SONY or DGG), his Mendelssohn Symphonies 3, 4, and 5, his SONY Mahler box, and his Shostakovich recordings. He also did yeoman work reviving interest in the work of Sibelius.
Absolutely, Rob, I feel exactly the same way about him, but, those are all great discs, I don't know the Sibelius but that's no problem either, I only listen to a small amount of Sibelius anyway...
The best Bernstein Sibelius recording is the 5th Symphony, IMO, but Bernstein began to champion Sibelius when his reputation was on the wane, and stopped the decline in public esteem in its tracks. That, more than any specific recordings, is why Bernstein is an important figure in the history of the Sibelian image.
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by maestrob » Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:00 pm

OTOH, I am a great fan of Bernstein's, who, IMHO, was one of if not the most important musical figures of the late XXth Century. He single-handedly brought about the Mahler revival, building on Mitropoulos's work, wrote West Side Story and Candide, three symphonies and other assorted works, revived Charles Ives, revived Sibelius & Nielsen, lectured at Harvard (those videos are fascinating), produced the Young People's Concerts on national TV, and, up until his last 8 years or so, produced great recordings of almost every major composer you can think of, from Mozart & Haydn to Nielsen & Webern. Sure, he had his flaws, but there is just so much to admire, not the least his consistently high quality recordings and performances. Just take a gander at his Vienna PO Mahler DVDs, which are so consistently excellent!

Bernstein knew that HVK and Solti were both Bruckner champions, and he rightly left the field to them, just as HVK (mostly) left Mahler alone, recording only V & IX, IIRC.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:23 pm

ContrapunctusIX wrote:
THEHORN wrote: But I've heard the reason he did so little Bruckner was that he admired Karajan's way with this composer so much he felt he couldn't compete with him.
Stories of a bitter rivalry and mutual dislike between Karajan and Bernstein are an urban legend. Apparently, they both admired each other's conducting very much.
Karajan tends to get a bad rap around CMG, but he was a heckuva Bruckner and Strauss conductor, and had a bunch of other great recordings in the core repertoire - his 1962 Beethoven 9 & 1964 Brahms 2 come immediately to mind.

I'll have to check out Lenny's Bruckner 9. I wasn't aware that he conducted any Bruckner at all.
One cannot forget to mention Karajan's Schumann Third, which got rave reviews, e.g. "this (interpretation) sets new standards of excellence" since the Toscanin recording of 1949.

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:09 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:One cannot forget to mention Karajan's Schumann Third, which got rave reviews, e.g. "this (interpretation) sets new standards of excellence" since the Toscanin recording of 1949.

Tschüß,
Jack
Jack, this is a Bruckner Thread, what's Mad Bob got to do with Bruckner, I guess you just could not giving him yet another plug... :wink:
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Barry » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:48 pm

ContrapunctusIX wrote: Karajan tends to get a bad rap around CMG, but he was a heckuva Bruckner and Strauss conductor, and had a bunch of other great recordings in the core repertoire - his 1962 Beethoven 9 & 1964 Brahms 2 come immediately to mind.
Agree completely. In fact, I'd say he took a backseat to nobody when it came to Bruckner and Strauss (I'm not saying there weren't other conductors who are competitive with him, but I wouldn't rate anyone as being clearly better for either composer).

But as I've pointed out before, to get the best of Karajan's Bruckner, with the very notable exception of the fifth, it's better to look beyond his complete set. His EMI 4th and 7th, DG 7th and 8th with the VPO, DG DVD 8th with the VPO and DG 9th from the 60s are all sensational recordings.
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by John F » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:55 pm

THEHORN wrote:I've heard the reason he did so little Bruckner was that he admired Karajan's way with this composer so much he felt he couldn't compete with him.
I don't believe that. As far as I know, Bernstein never conceded any repertoire to any other conductor, when he had convictions of his own about how the music should go, or just wanted to conduct it. He may have said such a thing, though I can't trace that he did. But if so, it may have been a way to avoid saying, what James Levine has openly said about Musorgsky, Janacek, and possibly Bruckner, that however much he might admire the music, he has no "conducting relationship" with it. That I can believe. Bernstein the conductor could do anything he wanted, on his own terms; when he didn't conduct a particular orchestral work, he almost certainly didn't want to, or not enough to bother with it.

That's why Bernstein rarely conducted Bruckner, surely.

You're right that Lenny conducted Bruckner 9 at the NY Phil, in 1969 when he recorded it, and the 6th in 1976. That's very slim pickings from the 47 years he worked with the orchestra as assistant conductor, guest conductor, music director, and laureate. I haven't heard the NY Phil 9th, but in the VPO concert I have the strong feeling that the orchestra, which has this music in its blood as Bernstein never did, is giving its own performance, or maybe a Karajan performance (HvK's Bruckner was sometimes expansive and soft-edged in this way), rather than a characteristic Bernstein one. Maybe he finally conducted the one Bruckner work he really knew as a grand gesture, understandable as growing out of the mutual love affair among himself, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Viennese audience. But from what I hear in the recording, he may have left it until too late.
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Barry » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:52 pm

I recall reading that Bernstein just didn't like Bruckner's music that much beyond the ninth. There was some interview where he played portions of the eighth symphony on the piano while criticizing the piece. I read this second-hand, so take it for what it's worth.
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:32 am

Chalkperson wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:One cannot forget to mention Karajan's Schumann Third, which got rave reviews, e.g. "this (interpretation) sets new standards of excellence" since the Toscanin recording of 1949.

Tschüß,
Jack
Jack, this is a Bruckner Thread, what's Mad Bob got to do with Bruckner, I guess you just could not giving him yet another plug... :wink:
Gosh, Chalkie----your fear of the "Schumann" word is worse than I thought...

What are you going to say to all those folks here who mentioned Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Strauss, etc...?!

After all, this IS a Bruckner thread, eh...?! 8) Keep cool, laddie.

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:43 am

Jack Kelso wrote:One cannot forget to mention Karajan's Schumann Third, which got rave reviews, e.g. "this (interpretation) sets new standards of excellence" since the Toscanin recording of 1949.
No, of course we can't forget to mention Schumann for the umpteenth time. Doesn't this get old for you, Jack?
Chalkperson wrote:Jack, this is a Bruckner Thread, what's Mad Bob got to do with Bruckner, I guess you just could not giving him yet another plug... :wink:
In Jack's eyes, EVERY thread needs a good Schumann plug :roll:

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:26 am

ContrapunctusIX wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:One cannot forget to mention Karajan's Schumann Third, which got rave reviews, e.g. "this (interpretation) sets new standards of excellence" since the Toscanin recording of 1949.
No, of course we can't forget to mention Schumann for the umpteenth time. Doesn't this get old for you, Jack?
Chalkperson wrote:Jack, this is a Bruckner Thread, what's Mad Bob got to do with Bruckner, I guess you just could not (sic!) giving him yet another plug... :wink:
In Jack's eyes, EVERY thread needs a good Schumann plug :roll:
Geeez, Contra---have you been taking those Chalkie-Tablets again? Why, in your eyes/ears does Schumann not deserved to be mentioned in a Bruckner thread when others have been....(sigh!) Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Sibelius, etc. Or maybe we should just name the thread: "For Bruckner---with invitations to all other composers except Schumann".

Yep, that sounds about right (at least for our "pop" fans out there, eh?! :lol: )

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:15 am

Jack Kelso wrote: Geeez, Contra---have you been taking those Chalkie-Tablets again? Why, in your eyes/ears does Schumann not deserved to be mentioned in a Bruckner thread when others have been....(sigh!) Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Sibelius, etc. Or maybe we should just name the thread: "For Bruckner---with invitations to all other composers except Schumann".

Yep, that sounds about right (at least for our "pop" fans out there, eh?! :lol: )

Tschüß,
Jack
Perhaps I would be less abrasive about it if you didn't mention Schumann in every thread. Is Schumann a bad composer? No. Is he great? So great that he deserves praise in every thread regardless of whether or not it is remotely related to the topic at hand? No.
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Chalkperson » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:44 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Gosh, Chalkie----your fear of the "Schumann" word is worse than I thought...

Tschüß,
Jack
It's not fear Jack, it's just dead boring to read constant references to Schumann, I cannot think of another Composer who is dragged into every Thread by an over eager poster...I mean, i'm a huge Morton Feldman fan and love giving him a plug when I get a chance, but, I only do it occasionally, you never stop doing it despite many comments from us fellow posters, it makes me reluctant to even try listening to his music, in fact I may have to put you both on my ignore list, so instead of prompting me to give Mad Bob another chance you make me want to totally ignore his Music, because, if you feel the need to defend him day in and day out then there must be an underlying reason, and that reason is that he just ain't nowhere near as talented as you try to make him out to be... :mrgreen:
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Wallingford » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:42 pm

Yeah, Jack.

Like, take it from any Saint-Saens buff who knows.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by pizza » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:24 am

maestrob wrote:OTOH, I am a great fan of Bernstein's, who, IMHO, was one of if not the most important musical figures of the late XXth Century. He single-handedly brought about the Mahler revival, building on Mitropoulos's work .
That's debatable. Horenstein's 1959 sensational live performance of Mahler 8 and its aftermath is regarded by many to be the event that started the Mahler revival. And, as far as recordings are concerned, Abravanel's Utah cycle was also done quite early, and was the first complete cycle recorded with a single orchestra in its entirety. There are plenty of goodies in that cycle, and if I remember correctly, the cost of those Vanguard "Everyman" LPs were a fraction of the Columbia LPs on which Lenny's appeared, and probably reached a wider, if more frugal audience.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Jack Kelso » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:14 am

ContrapunctusIX wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote: Geeez, Contra---have you been taking those Chalkie-Tablets again? Why, in your eyes/ears does Schumann not deserved to be mentioned in a Bruckner thread when others have been....(sigh!) Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Sibelius, etc. Or maybe we should just name the thread: "For Bruckner---with invitations to all other composers except Schumann".

Yep, that sounds about right (at least for our "pop" fans out there, eh?! :lol: )

Tschüß,
Jack
Perhaps I would be less abrasive about it if you didn't mention Schumann in every thread. Is Schumann a bad composer? No. Is he great? So great that he deserves praise in every thread regardless of whether or not it is remotely related to the topic at hand? No.
God Lord, I mention a Karajan recording which was in keeping with another posters remarks and I get blasted.

Good. Now go ahead and tell all the Brahms fans out there not to drag HIM into every thread on Beethoven and symphonies, conductors, concerti and chamber music. Remember: "What's good for the goose is good for the gander".

WARNING! ANY topic which deals with art song, piano music, chamber music, concerti, symphonic works, dramatic choral compositions, religious music and Romantic Era music in general could produce the name of "Schumann". Just try to keep cool and don't read what you don't like... 8) 8)

Tschüß,
Jack
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by maestrob » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:18 am

pizza wrote:
maestrob wrote:OTOH, I am a great fan of Bernstein's, who, IMHO, was one of if not the most important musical figures of the late XXth Century. He single-handedly brought about the Mahler revival, building on Mitropoulos's work .
That's debatable. Horenstein's 1959 sensational live performance of Mahler 8 and its aftermath is regarded by many to be the event that started the Mahler revival. And, as far as recordings are concerned, Abravanel's Utah cycle was also done quite early, and was the first complete cycle recorded with a single orchestra in its entirety. There are plenty of goodies in that cycle, and if I remember correctly, the cost of those Vanguard "Everyman" LPs were a fraction of the Columbia LPs on which Lenny's appeared, and probably reached a wider, if more frugal audience.
Regarded by whom? Not I! Horenstein was on the bandwagon, sure and a champion of Mahler's music, but he couldn't reach the audience that Bernstein enjoyed in NY with the backing of Columbia records. Horenstein's efforts, while quite good, could not match Bernstein's high quality and complete dedication: Bernstein recorded three complete cycles (Columbia/NY/London (for VIII), Vienna/Israel (for Das Lied) on DVD, and the final cycle for DGG split between NY & Vienna, to me his least successful. How many cycles did Horenstein record?

As for Abravanel, hardly anyone paid attention. Whoever took the Utah Symphony seriously compared to NY & Vienna? :mrgreen: In those days, I was very frugal, believe me, but I still managed to acquire Bernstein & Bruno Walter.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Sator » Fri Feb 12, 2010 5:14 pm

I am afraid when I heard the Berstein VPO Bruckner 9th I couldn't stop laughing. It is one of the most bizarrely affected performances of anything I have ever heard.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by stenka razin » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:51 pm

Sator wrote:I am afraid when I heard the Berstein VPO Bruckner 9th I couldn't stop laughing. It is one of the most bizarrely affected performances of anything I have ever heard.
Bernstein recorded the 9th for Columbia in 1971 and it is swifter paced than the DG remake. He uses the Nowak edition. You may like that Sony CD, if available more than his very late DG recording, mate. Give it a spin. 8)

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Modernistfan » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:12 pm

In general, I have kept Bernstein's earlier Columbia/Sony recordings, where available, and dumped the later Deutsche Grammophon recordings, though there are some exceptions worth listening to, such as (probably) his Beethoven and Brahms cycles on Deutsche Grammophon. Bernstein was known as a champion of Shostakovich, but his later recording of the Shostakovich Sixth and Ninth Symphonies, with the Vienna Philharmonic (not the best of orchestras for Shostakovich twenty-odd years ago) was absolutely awful, way too slow, with no Russian soul whatsoever. Just about any other recording of those symphonies is preferable; I would even take Ladislav Slovak on Naxos (probably about to get dumped to Amadis, Naxos's super-super-super budget line, with the tremendous new cycle under way on Naxos with Petrenko and the Liverpudlians) over the DG Bernstein Shostakovich 6th/9th, if I had no other choice.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Modernistfan » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:27 pm

For anyone interested, both of the Bernstein Bruckner Ninths (the Sony and the Deutsche Grammophon) are available on ArkivMusic ArkivCD burn-to-order reissue program

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Sator » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:17 pm

I basically don't buy either Solti or Bernstein recordings. I know, I know you fans out there want to change my mind by getting me to listen x, y, z, α,β,ψ. I've been there done that, given it a spin and at the end of the day, I am afraid I have better things to do, and listen to. Sorry.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Heck148 » Fri Feb 12, 2010 10:41 pm

Modernistfan wrote:In general, I have kept Bernstein's earlier Columbia/Sony recordings, where available, and dumped the later Deutsche Grammophon recordings, though there are some exceptions worth listening to,
yes. generally the earlier NYPO/CBS ones are preferable, but not all. some of the later ones are better - his Mahler #3 take 2 with NYPO on DG is better than the earlier one. Same with Copland Sym#3. His later CSO/DG Shostakovich Syms #1 and 7 are sensational - amongst the greatest recordings he [or anybody] ever made...
his later recording of the Shostakovich Sixth and Ninth Symphonies, with the Vienna Philharmonic (not the best of orchestras for Shostakovich twenty-odd years ago) was absolutely awful, way too slow, with no Russian soul whatsoever.
Haven't heard those - his earlier #6/NYPO is excellent, along with Reiner/PittsSO the best I've heard...his earlier #9 never impressed me that much either. not too bad. but others are better...Kurtz/NYPO, Kondrashin/MoscowPO.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Modernistfan » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:56 am

Agreed that the Deutsche Grammophon Shostakovich First and Seventh (with the Chicago Symphony) are far better than that lousy Sixth and Ninth with Vienna, but I now think that even that First is definitely too slow. You might say the same thing about the Seventh, but his tempo works better for the Seventh than the First. In his earlier Columbia (Sony) recording of the Seventh with the NYPO, he made a huge, disfiguring cut toward the end of the so-called "invasion" sequence in the first movement; he did not do this in the Deutsche Grammophon remake.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by maestrob » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:21 am

Modernistfan wrote:Agreed that the Deutsche Grammophon Shostakovich First and Seventh (with the Chicago Symphony) are far better than that lousy Sixth and Ninth with Vienna, but I now think that even that First is definitely too slow. You might say the same thing about the Seventh, but his tempo works better for the Seventh than the First. In his earlier Columbia (Sony) recording of the Seventh with the NYPO, he made a huge, disfiguring cut toward the end of the so-called "invasion" sequence in the first movement; he did not do this in the Deutsche Grammophon remake.
Yes, but his tempo choices in the NY recording are simply better than the DGG Shostakovich VII. The DGG recording is a pale shadow of the great concerts he gave around the same time he made that recording; I was privileged to hear him with the Chicago Symphony in Avery Fisher Hall in June of that year. That was one of the top 10 great concerts in my lifetime.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by pizza » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:17 pm

maestrob wrote:
pizza wrote:
maestrob wrote:OTOH, I am a great fan of Bernstein's, who, IMHO, was one of if not the most important musical figures of the late XXth Century. He single-handedly brought about the Mahler revival, building on Mitropoulos's work .
That's debatable. Horenstein's 1959 sensational live performance of Mahler 8 and its aftermath is regarded by many to be the event that started the Mahler revival. And, as far as recordings are concerned, Abravanel's Utah cycle was also done quite early, and was the first complete cycle recorded with a single orchestra in its entirety. There are plenty of goodies in that cycle, and if I remember correctly, the cost of those Vanguard "Everyman" LPs were a fraction of the Columbia LPs on which Lenny's appeared, and probably reached a wider, if more frugal audience.
Regarded by whom? Not I! Horenstein was on the bandwagon, sure and a champion of Mahler's music, but he couldn't reach the audience that Bernstein enjoyed in NY with the backing of Columbia records. Horenstein's efforts, while quite good, could not match Bernstein's high quality and complete dedication: Bernstein recorded three complete cycles (Columbia/NY/London (for VIII), Vienna/Israel (for Das Lied) on DVD, and the final cycle for DGG split between NY & Vienna, to me his least successful. How many cycles did Horenstein record?

As for Abravanel, hardly anyone paid attention. Whoever took the Utah Symphony seriously compared to NY & Vienna? :mrgreen: In those days, I was very frugal, believe me, but I still managed to acquire Bernstein & Bruno Walter.
Regarded by whom? By Alex Ross, for one, and by Tony Duggan, for another, as well as by myself. New York, contrary to some opinions, isn't the capital of the world.

As for the Abravanel cycle, I know many people who paid attention to it at the time the LPs were released, and there are still many who consider his performances of the 2nd and 4th as among the very best ever recorded, myself included.

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/10/16/arts/ ... wanted=all

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Heck148 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:25 pm

maestrob wrote:Yes, but his tempo choices in the NY recording are simply better than the DGG Shostakovich VII.
I find his later CSO/DG Shost #7 superior in every way to the earlier one...he deliberately took the 2nd mvt at a slower tempo than indicated, as LB was wont to do on occasion...
The DGG recording is a pale shadow of the great concerts he gave around the same time he made that recording; I was privileged to hear him with the Chicago Symphony in Avery Fisher Hall in June of that year. That was one of the top 10 great concerts in my lifetime.
Hmmm....I don't think that Bernstein's CSO Shost #7 and 1 are in any way "pale shadows"...they are perhaps the finest symphony recordings I've heard from any source, on any label.

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by John F » Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:52 pm

pizza wrote:
maestrob wrote:
pizza wrote:
maestrob wrote:OTOH, I am a great fan of Bernstein's, who, IMHO, was one of if not the most important musical figures of the late XXth Century. He single-handedly brought about the Mahler revival, building on Mitropoulos's work .
That's debatable. Horenstein's 1959 sensational live performance of Mahler 8 and its aftermath is regarded by many to be the event that started the Mahler revival. And, as far as recordings are concerned, Abravanel's Utah cycle was also done quite early, and was the first complete cycle recorded with a single orchestra in its entirety. There are plenty of goodies in that cycle, and if I remember correctly, the cost of those Vanguard "Everyman" LPs were a fraction of the Columbia LPs on which Lenny's appeared, and probably reached a wider, if more frugal audience.
Regarded by whom? Not I! Horenstein was on the bandwagon, sure and a champion of Mahler's music, but he couldn't reach the audience that Bernstein enjoyed in NY with the backing of Columbia records. Horenstein's efforts, while quite good, could not match Bernstein's high quality and complete dedication: Bernstein recorded three complete cycles (Columbia/NY/London (for VIII), Vienna/Israel (for Das Lied) on DVD, and the final cycle for DGG split between NY & Vienna, to me his least successful. How many cycles did Horenstein record?

As for Abravanel, hardly anyone paid attention. Whoever took the Utah Symphony seriously compared to NY & Vienna? :mrgreen: In those days, I was very frugal, believe me, but I still managed to acquire Bernstein & Bruno Walter.
Regarded by whom? By Alex Ross, for one, and by Tony Duggan, for another, as well as by myself. New York, contrary to some opinions, isn't the capital of the world.

As for the Abravanel cycle, I know many people who paid attention to it at the time the LPs were released, and there are still many who consider his performances of the 2nd and 4th as among the very best ever recorded, myself included.

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/10/16/arts/ ... wanted=all
It's a pointless debate. The Mahler revival occurred because a large audience was ready for it, and not just in New York or London or a few other musical centers. No doubt Leonard Bernstein's recordings were significant. But his cycle began in 1960, by when every one of the Mahler symphonies (except the completed #10, which Bernstein didn't conduct) had already been recorded, most of them more than once, with such important conductors as Bruno Walter, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Otto Klemperer, Jascha Horenstein, Hermann Scherchen, Hans Rosbaud, William Steinberg, Eduard van Beinum, and Rafael Kubelik. Not to overlook such estimable Mahlerians as Eduard Flipse and F. Charles Adler, whose recordings for SPA may be forgotten but not by me.

Mahler has never lacked for eloquent champions in the concert hall and on records. What was missing was a strong connection with the broad musical public - and when you consider the length, idiosyncrasy, and sheer Austrian-ness of much of that music, it's easy to understand why. For some reason which can probably not be understood, Mahler's time finally came in the 1960s, and Leonard Bernstein was in the right place at the right time to make his important contribution. But so were many others.
John Francis

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by maestrob » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:11 am

John F wrote:
pizza wrote:
maestrob wrote:
pizza wrote:
maestrob wrote:OTOH, I am a great fan of Bernstein's, who, IMHO, was one of if not the most important musical figures of the late XXth Century. He single-handedly brought about the Mahler revival, building on Mitropoulos's work .
That's debatable. Horenstein's 1959 sensational live performance of Mahler 8 and its aftermath is regarded by many to be the event that started the Mahler revival. And, as far as recordings are concerned, Abravanel's Utah cycle was also done quite early, and was the first complete cycle recorded with a single orchestra in its entirety. There are plenty of goodies in that cycle, and if I remember correctly, the cost of those Vanguard "Everyman" LPs were a fraction of the Columbia LPs on which Lenny's appeared, and probably reached a wider, if more frugal audience.
Regarded by whom? Not I! Horenstein was on the bandwagon, sure and a champion of Mahler's music, but he couldn't reach the audience that Bernstein enjoyed in NY with the backing of Columbia records. Horenstein's efforts, while quite good, could not match Bernstein's high quality and complete dedication: Bernstein recorded three complete cycles (Columbia/NY/London (for VIII), Vienna/Israel (for Das Lied) on DVD, and the final cycle for DGG split between NY & Vienna, to me his least successful. How many cycles did Horenstein record?

As for Abravanel, hardly anyone paid attention. Whoever took the Utah Symphony seriously compared to NY & Vienna? :mrgreen: In those days, I was very frugal, believe me, but I still managed to acquire Bernstein & Bruno Walter.
Regarded by whom? By Alex Ross, for one, and by Tony Duggan, for another, as well as by myself. New York, contrary to some opinions, isn't the capital of the world.

As for the Abravanel cycle, I know many people who paid attention to it at the time the LPs were released, and there are still many who consider his performances of the 2nd and 4th as among the very best ever recorded, myself included.

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/10/16/arts/ ... wanted=all
It's a pointless debate. The Mahler revival occurred because a large audience was ready for it, and not just in New York or London or a few other musical centers. No doubt Leonard Bernstein's recordings were significant. But his cycle began in 1960, by when every one of the Mahler symphonies (except the completed #10, which Bernstein didn't conduct) had already been recorded, most of them more than once, with such important conductors as Bruno Walter, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Otto Klemperer, Jascha Horenstein, Hermann Scherchen, Hans Rosbaud, William Steinberg, Eduard van Beinum, and Rafael Kubelik. Not to overlook such estimable Mahlerians as Eduard Flipse and F. Charles Adler, whose recordings for SPA may be forgotten but not by me.

Mahler has never lacked for eloquent champions in the concert hall and on records. What was missing was a strong connection with the broad musical public - and when you consider the length, idiosyncrasy, and sheer Austrian-ness of much of that music, it's easy to understand why. For some reason which can probably not be understood, Mahler's time finally came in the 1960s, and Leonard Bernstein was in the right place at the right time to make his important contribution. But so were many others.
My off-the-cuff guess as to the reason for Mahler's success was that Lenny was riding the crest of a wave, which was helped enormously by the sudden popularity of better-quality stereo LPs (and reel-to-reel tapes) and components to play them on. Suddenly, long forms of classical music (Wagner's Ring included) could get their due in home listening.

I'm just saying...... :wink:

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by John F » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:42 am

I hadn't thought of that, but very likely the high fidelity boom of the late '50s and '60s did help to sell stereo LPs of Mahler (prerecorded open-reel tapes had a tiny market share), so people could show off their systems. :) How serious they were about the actual music, and how often they attended live concerts, I couldn't say; I knew some hi-fi nuts back then who seem never to have left home. That was also when I met my first Mahler nut, who hardly listened to anything else.

Nowadays the high fidelity boom is past and we're in a low fidelity boom, as more and more recordings are sold in the form of mp3 downloads and listened to on iPods. If that had come, say, 50 years earlier, would Mahler have gotten into the standard repertoire? I think so, it wasn't all about records and sound reproduction, the '60s were a time of major shifts in sensibility after the uptight '50s, and Mahler's music doubtless benefited from a more open attitude toward classical music as toward much else. Or so I believe - it would be interesting to see a study of this.
John Francis

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:33 pm

Sator wrote:I am afraid when I heard the Berstein VPO Bruckner 9th I couldn't stop laughing. It is one of the most bizarrely affected performances of anything I have ever heard.
His recording of Brahms' Third is even worse: over fifteen minutes for the 1st mvt, even with the repeat of the exposition! It drags on and on and on....and destroys this happy music.

Was he trying to make Bruckner out of Brahms....?! :shock:

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by ContrapunctusIX » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:38 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:
Sator wrote:I am afraid when I heard the Berstein VPO Bruckner 9th I couldn't stop laughing. It is one of the most bizarrely affected performances of anything I have ever heard.
His recording of Brahms' Third is even worse: over fifteen minutes for the 1st mvt, even with the repeat of the exposition! It drags on and on and on....and destroys this happy music.

Was he trying to make Bruckner out of Brahms....?! :shock:

Tschüß,
Jack
we're on the same page here, Jack. Bernstein's VPO Brahms cycle is pretty poor. His Schumann, OTOH... :lol:

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Chalkperson » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:50 pm

ContrapunctusIX wrote:His Schumann, OTOH... :lol:
That's not Bernstein's fault, he's working with an inferior Set of Works... :mrgreen:
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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Wallingford » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:55 pm

Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner
...and this was actually a BAD THING?
If I could tell my mom and dad
That the things we never had
Never mattered we were always ok
Getting ready for Christmas day
--Paul Simon

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Re: Why Bernstein Rarely Conducted Bruckner

Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Feb 18, 2010 7:34 am

Chalkperson wrote:
ContrapunctusIX wrote:His Schumann, OTOH... :lol:
That's not Bernstein's fault, he's working with an inferior Set of Works... :mrgreen:
HAR---HARDY---HAR--HAR---HAR..... :lol: Yep, them's the works that Szell regarded as the most central to the Romantic Era.

Seriously though, Bernstein's Schumann Second with the VPO is one of the very best, with super sound to boot! It is regretable, however, that he ruins the coda of the Third in BOTH his NYP and VPO recordings.


Encyclopedia Americana: "Schumann's symphonies are generally considered to be the most important works of their kind since the time of Beethoven...". 8)

Tschüß,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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