Bruckner journeys

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stevewright
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Bruckner journeys

Post by stevewright » Tue Apr 21, 2015 3:33 am

So, I've just begun my Bruckner journey, with Symphonies 7 (Wand/Kolner/RCA) and 4 (Jochum/BPO/DG) and am, predictably, hooked.

He's going straight up there with Beethoven, Brahms and Schubert for me, and for some moods only he will do.

So my question is: if you were beginning your Bruckner journey, where would you go next? Symphs 5, 6 or 8 (if so, which conductor(s)?)? A cycle?

Complete cycles:
Jochum (BPO/DG)
Jochum (Dresden/EMI)
Wand (Kolner, RCA)
Wand (BPO, RCA, individual discs)
Karajan (BPO, DG)

Any recommendations among these or others? Or shall I pick the best individuals e.g. Sinopoli 5, Nagano 6, Karajan 7 & 8?

I tend more towards lush and ethereal than granitic and bombastic, though I imagine I'm in for a bit of all of these with Bruckner.

Any help very much appreciated!

david johnson
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by david johnson » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:20 am

you can test many of these on youtube. my boxes are jochum/emi and Barenboim/cso/dg. what ever your ultimate decision, get bongartz/Leipzig/ #6. I also enjoy some of the Bruckner orchestra/linz recordings.

John F
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by John F » Tue Apr 21, 2015 7:56 am

stevewright wrote:So my question is: if you were beginning your Bruckner journey, where would you go next? Symphs 5, 6 or 8 (if so, which conductor(s)?)? A cycle?
When I began my Bruckner journey, back in the 1950s, there were no Bruckner cycles on records. My first experience, like yours, was of the 7th symphony, on records and in concert by the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Eduard van Beinum, followed before long with the 8th and 9th symphonies on records with the same performers. There are some Bruckner symphonies I haven't yeard yet, #1 and #2; I may get around to them or I may not. You could do worse than go on to the 8th and 9th symphonies, Bruckner's crowning masterpieces.

"Lush and ethereal" is not at all what I want in Bruckner, except in the ethereal moments of the slow movements. The van Beinum recordings are very dramatic with tempos in the fast movements that are faster than usual. For me, the recordings to have if only one of each symphony are those conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler with the Berlin and/or Vienna Philharmonic Orchestras, high drama and musical thinking on the largest scale. Here is his wartime Berlin Philharmonic concert performance of the 9th, the most exciting I've ever heard:



Günter Wand's recordings, those that I've heard, are straightforward interpretations you can't go wrong with. Eugen Jochum's Bruckner used to be very highly esteemed, except by me - his tempo variation doesn't make musical sense to me as Furtwängler's certainly does. Karajan has given some powerful Bruckner performances but not, I think, in his EMI recordings which for me are lacking in impetus.

If you possibly can, attend a concert performance of one of the last three symphonies. Recordings can give only an approximation of Bruckner's orchestra in full cry.

And for an excellent commentary on the 9th symphony with musical examples, there's this 20 minute talk from the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nt2yp
John Francis

maestrob
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by maestrob » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:20 am

My first experience with Bruckner was an LP set led by Bruno Walter of IV, VII & IX, with the Columbia Symphony (i.e. hand-picked musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic). These recordings still have a special place in my heart, and all are available still (never been OOP). As for your next step, try IV & IX since you have the Wand set, you can't go wrong.

I would save VIII for a special occasion: it's a masterpiece and Bruckner's crowning achievement. My advice is to build up to it by hearing the others (including V & VI) first. Get the Szell/Cleveland version of VIII: nobody, not even Wand, manages the Adagio as well as Szell.

stevewright
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by stevewright » Tue Apr 21, 2015 1:32 pm

maestrob wrote:My first experience with Bruckner was an LP set led by Bruno Walter of IV, VII & IX, with the Columbia Symphony (i.e. hand-picked musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic). These recordings still have a special place in my heart, and all are available still (never been OOP). As for your next step, try IV & IX since you have the Wand set, you can't go wrong.

I would save VIII for a special occasion: it's a masterpiece and Bruckner's crowning achievement. My advice is to build up to it by hearing the others (including V & VI) first. Get the Szell/Cleveland version of VIII: nobody, not even Wand, manages the Adagio as well as Szell.
Sounds good, thank you. Do you know Wand's Bruckner (BPO, Cologne or otherwise)?
I just have one Wand CD so far (VII, with Cologne). The Cologne set is very affordable on Amazon (as are Jochum and Karajan, to be fair) and has very warm reviews from punters, though the MusicWeb International website is less enamoured of that cycle than of Wand's various BPO Bruckner symphonies. Which are more expensive, but if they are significantly better...

josé echenique
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by josé echenique » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:12 pm

Among recent recordings, for the Fifth I definitely like Sinopoli a lot, with the Dresden Staatskapelle. This was his last Bruckner recording before he passed away, and it´s a brilliant and powerful performance [DG]. And it´s a great pity that it was his last because none of his earlier recordings was this good.
Haven´t heard the Nagano, for the Sixth I always turn to Klemperer in EMI.
And Karajan conducts incredibly beautiful performances of the 7th and 8th with the Vienna Philharmonic in DG [not the earlier analogue recordings in EMI]. Giulini with the same orchestra also must be considered for the 7th and 8th, his are warm, mediterranean readings that are also just superb.

maestrob
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by maestrob » Tue Apr 21, 2015 11:05 pm

stevewright wrote:
maestrob wrote:My first experience with Bruckner was an LP set led by Bruno Walter of IV, VII & IX, with the Columbia Symphony (i.e. hand-picked musicians from the Los Angeles Philharmonic). These recordings still have a special place in my heart, and all are available still (never been OOP). As for your next step, try IV & IX since you have the Wand set, you can't go wrong.

I would save VIII for a special occasion: it's a masterpiece and Bruckner's crowning achievement. My advice is to build up to it by hearing the others (including V & VI) first. Get the Szell/Cleveland version of VIII: nobody, not even Wand, manages the Adagio as well as Szell.
Sounds good, thank you. Do you know Wand's Bruckner (BPO, Cologne or otherwise)?
I just have one Wand CD so far (VII, with Cologne). The Cologne set is very affordable on Amazon (as are Jochum and Karajan, to be fair) and has very warm reviews from punters, though the MusicWeb International website is less enamoured of that cycle than of Wand's various BPO Bruckner symphonies. Which are more expensive, but if they are significantly better...
Hi, Steve.

Yes, I know the Wand/Cologne set, and rate it highly. The individual performances I mentioned are better, however, especially Szell's VIII which is masterful. If you're looking to try Wand/Cologne, I recommend the LP-sized famous recordings by this conductor, which includes complete Bruckner, Brahms, Beethoven & Schubert (& others), all for about $35.00 on Amazon. Wand's later Berlin Bruckner is, to my ears, disappointing, even if pricey. He was more eccentric, with a new tempo for every musical idea, not to my taste. YMMV, however. My recommendation, if you're going for Wand, would be to start with his Cologne work. Enjoy!

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parsifal
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by parsifal » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:21 am

I started with Walter´s account of the 9th, which I still like very much. You don´t have to go for cycles. If you want good and cheap recordings of the symphonies try Tintner on Naxos. Good brucknerians beside the others mentioned are Skrowaczewski, Haitink and Van Beinum. as a matter of fact you have a comprehensive choice of great recordings. As usual it is also a matter of taste. I think Klemperer´s recording of the popular 4th is very good. If you get a bad recording of a Bruckner symphony you´ve bad luck as there are so many good ones.

Kjell Nilsson.

jbuck919
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:24 pm

Well, I woudn't start with any works that are not symphonies, such as were on one of the programs from Schnectady I posted about recently. I wonder how many people were bamboozled by assuming they were getting a symphony.

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rogch
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by rogch » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:11 pm

I think the second symphony is underrated. Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra sounds good on Spotify, i have not heard it on CD. It is only available as part of Haitink´s complete set. Other good recordings are Chailly (same orchestra, Decca), Wand with the Cologne RSO and Giulini with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (Testament).

Chailly's set is very good. In particular nos. 3, 5, 7 and 8.

I actually like Nikolaus Harnoncourt's most controversial recordings, of the 3rd (Concertgebouw) and the 8th (Berlin PO). The critics did not like them at all, but the reviews on Amazon are much more positive.

There are many good recordings of the 4th, but i think Wand and the Berlin Philharmonic is clearly the best.

Plenty of good recordings of the 5th too, many of the have been mentioned. I can add Abbado and the Vienna PO (DG).

Böhm is very good in the 4th, 7th, and 8th with the Vienna Philharmonic on Decca and DG. But in the 7th and 8th he is even better with the Bavarian RSO on Audite.

Karajan is splendid in the 9th with the Berlin PO. Giulini and the Chicago SO is also very good. I have not heard Giulini's legendary Vienna recording.
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bigshot
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by bigshot » Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:39 pm

There is a very good Wand cycle on DVD. It's fun to be able to watch classical performances as well as listen to them. It gives you added respect for Wand too. He is in total control.

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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by Lance » Thu Apr 23, 2015 4:48 pm

Well, insofar as the Bruckner symphonies are concerned, I have the complete one on DGG [477 9803], which includes the Te Deum, Psalm 150, and Helgoland, all with the Chicago Symphony with Barenboim, acquired primarily because of the Chicago Symphony, not particularly Barenboim.
Then there’s the two EMI sets [66206, 66210] with a variety of conductors: 1+2 w/Zaun conducting, 3 w/Konrath, 4+5 w/Böhm, 7 w/Furtwängler; then the other set: 6 w/Furtwängler, 7 w/Kabasta, 8 w/Furtwängler, 9 w/von Hausseger. So you get the symphonies with a variety of conductors with various orchestra, all historical recordings in mono sound only.

On DGG [479 1046] you get live performances conducted by Claudio Abbado of symphonies 1, 4, 5, 7 and 9 [1 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, the rest with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra].
The Fifth and Seventh Bruckner symphonies are my favourites of them all. But I have many individual performances of all the symphonies and can advise that Hans Knappertsbusch has one of the best Fifths I have ever heard on Decca [448 581] with the Vienna Philharmonic (recorded 1956), now out of print but worth seeking. Arkiv is making it available in their reprint series.

Despite mono sound in many of the historical performances Wilhelm Furtwängler ranks among the highest for me in any Bruckner he conducts. It makes the most sense and it is music he communicates and understands this music thoroughly.

There’s an interesting Fifth on the Archipel label [0129, recorded 1953, previously unpublished] with Hans Rosbaud, a magnificent, highly respected conductor but not well known except by collectors these days.

I must add, too, that I thoroughly enjoyed those symphonies conducted by Abbado in the set mentioned above.

You have LOTS of choices! Everyone has their favourites, as you will. You will, no doubt, become a verified Brucknerite! •
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maestrob
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by maestrob » Thu Apr 23, 2015 11:01 pm

P. S. If you feel like splurging on DVDs, Barenboim's new cycle of the mature symphonies is outstanding...... :)

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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by dulcinea » Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:25 pm

Which is the best performance of the COMPLETED Ninth?
Let every thing that has breath praise the Lord! Alleluya!

maestrob
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by maestrob » Fri Apr 24, 2015 10:44 pm

dulcinea wrote:Which is the best performance of the COMPLETED Ninth?
Sad to say, I don't like any I've heard. Bruckner, unlike Mahler X, really didn't leave enough material to make a solid fourth movement, IMHO.

John F
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by John F » Sat Apr 25, 2015 5:26 pm

dulcinea wrote:Which is the best performance of the COMPLETED Ninth?
There is no completed 9th symphony by Bruckner himself. He had plenty of time to compose a fourth movement, and he didn't; if he failed, nobody else can possibly succeed. The adagio is a supremely satisfying conclusion, for me anyway. R.I.P.
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maestrob
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by maestrob » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:41 pm

John F wrote:
dulcinea wrote:Which is the best performance of the COMPLETED Ninth?
There is no completed 9th symphony by Bruckner himself. He had plenty of time to compose a fourth movement, and he didn't; if he failed, nobody else can possibly succeed. The adagio is a supremely satisfying conclusion, for me anyway. R.I.P.
Actually, he was busy re-doing the second, third & fourth symphonies instead of finishing the ninth. We are richer for it, but I'm sad he never completed at least piano sketches for the last movement of IX......

There are sketches of rudimentary ideas for the movement, but the connecting tissue just isn't there.

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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by John F » Sun Apr 26, 2015 4:36 am

Bruckner revised the 2nd symphony in 1876 (though it was published in 1890), the 3rd in 1889, and the 4th in 1886. He completed and orchestrated the 3rd movement of the 9th in November 1894, and died in October 1896, having composed or revised no other music during those two years. Composer's block, pure and simple.
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Re: Bruckner journeys

Post by Lance » Fri May 01, 2015 1:17 am

Same thing happened to Aaron Copland ... composers' block. Has to be frightening, eh?
John F wrote:Bruckner revised the 2nd symphony in 1876 (though it was published in 1890), the 3rd in 1889, and the 4th in 1886. He completed and orchestrated the 3rd movement of the 9th in November 1894, and died in October 1896, having composed or revised no other music during those two years. Composer's block, pure and simple.
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