Can't warm to Bruckner

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slofstra
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Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by slofstra » Sat Feb 29, 2020 2:04 pm

It's not that I dislike his music, but I don't like it very much. Sometimes I'll hear new music and know it needs to be given repeated listenings to give it a proper chance. It doesn't seem to be this way with Bruckner. His symphonies are ponderously long, and there's not much to see along the way.
I have enjoyed a symphony or two of Bruckner's, but I know I could name 50 composers I like more. So over the years, I just haven't bothered with him a great deal.
I'd love for someone to counterpoint my thoughts, which are largely attitudinal. After all, I haven't listened to him all that much because of my preconceptions. Is there anyone who listens to Bruckner at least once a week, or once a month?

I guess what prompted this is that I viewed a recent BPO concert conducted by Herbert Blomstedt with Lief Ove Andsnes playing Mozart's PC #22. A stellar performance, but when it came to the closing piece, Bruckner's Symphony 4 at 77 minutes in length, I bailed out.

parsifal
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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by parsifal » Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:40 am

De gustibus non est disputandum!

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by david johnson » Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:29 am

I have never had a problem enjoying Bruckner's music :)

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by slofstra » Sun Mar 01, 2020 7:45 am

david johnson wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:29 am
I have never had a problem enjoying Bruckner's music :)
But doesn't it give you the feeling that you'd rather be listening to something else?

It's like Beethoven symphony number 1, which our local symphony performed last time out. Why? When we have 2 through 9.

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by slofstra » Sun Mar 01, 2020 7:52 am

parsifal wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 2:40 am
De gustibus non est disputandum!
Yes, of course, but a little friendly counterpoint can be fun.

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by barney » Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:02 am

I have some sympathy for your position. I have to be in the mood for Bruckner. But I love the fourth - I think it's magnificent. The opening always reminds me of Mahler 5.
And in the last months of his life, my friend Barry Tuckwell (separate thread) listened to Bruckner 8 more than anything.
Do you know the lovely story about Bruckner being invited to conduct the VPO? At the first rehearsal Bruckner, a delightfully modest man, took the podium and looked around. Eventually the concertmaster said to him, "whenever you are ready, Herr Bruckner." The composer replied, "Oh no gentlemen, after you!" :lol:

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by parsifal » Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:35 am

I guess there is no use in saying that one doesn´t warm to the music of Bruckner. Anyone of the members of CMG can come up with stuff like that. I know there is no use for me saying that I don´t warm to Stravinskij adding that "Les Noces" is the ugliest music I have on disc.
I follow the advice to listen to something else, unless I decide to "conquer" Les Noces by giving it repeated listenings until I like it or at least until I stand it.

Kjell Nilsson
Trelleborg, Sweden

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by slofstra » Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:52 am

barney wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:02 am
I have some sympathy for your position. I have to be in the mood for Bruckner. But I love the fourth - I think it's magnificent. The opening always reminds me of Mahler 5.
And in the last months of his life, my friend Barry Tuckwell (separate thread) listened to Bruckner 8 more than anything.
Do you know the lovely story about Bruckner being invited to conduct the VPO? At the first rehearsal Bruckner, a delightfully modest man, took the podium and looked around. Eventually the concertmaster said to him, "whenever you are ready, Herr Bruckner." The composer replied, "Oh no gentlemen, after you!" :lol:
Good story, but what happened next? It sounds like an impasse.
I regard any of my opinions as tentative, so perhaps the Fourth would be a good test. It's just too bad that the test is over an hour.
I do love Mahler's 5th, although I think the opening is surpassed by the 6th, which is one of THE great openings in music, along with Deep Purple's 'Smoke on the Water'. It must be added that, unlike Mahler, once you're a couple of minutes into the rock classic, there really isn't a lot more to it. The best ones in that genre usually end around that point.

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by slofstra » Sun Mar 01, 2020 9:05 am

parsifal wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:35 am
I guess there is no use in saying that one doesn´t warm to the music of Bruckner. Anyone of the members of CMG can come up with stuff like that. I know there is no use for me saying that I don´t warm to Stravinskij adding that "Les Noces" is the ugliest music I have on disc.
I follow the advice to listen to something else, unless I decide to "conquer" Les Noces by giving it repeated listenings until I like it or at least until I stand it.

Kjell Nilsson
Trelleborg, Sweden
If there's something that anyone can come up with, leave it to me. You are scraping the bottom of the barrel when it comes to musical erudition in reading my posts, Kjell.
But not warning to Stravinsky? Say it isn't so. Stravinsky is like Tuscany to Bruckner's Sweden. Something invigorating and surprising around every corner compared to existential bleakness. (A bit tongue in cheek here if that isn't obvious).
Last edited by slofstra on Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

Rach3
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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by Rach3 » Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:10 am

The only Bruckner recording I have is of his 7th Symphony (Solti/CSO/London).You might try that one,which I enjoy. At his debut concert as new principal conductor/music director of the NYPO, Kurt Masur presented the 7th ( a live TV broadcast ) , with a piece by John Adams and Copland's "Four American Songs" ( title ?) sung by Thomas Hampson.There apparently was some criticism of Masur for his choice of the Bruckner, but that was my first hearing and I acquired the cd shortly thereafter. One wag commented there are great moments in Wagner operas and Bruckner symphonies; the moments are just so far apart.

The Mahler symphonies I listen to are Nos.1,5,6, as well as "Das Lied von der Erde" and "Kindertotenlieder."

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by slofstra » Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:25 am

Rach3 wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 10:10 am
The only Bruckner recording I have is of his 7th Symphony (Solti/CSO/London).You might try that one,which I enjoy. At his debut concert as new principal conductor/music director of the NYPO, Kurt Masur presented the 7th ( a live TV broadcast ) , with a piece by John Adams and Copland's "Four American Songs" ( title ?) sung by Thomas Hampson.There apparently was some criticism of Masur for his choice of the Bruckner, but that was my first hearing and I acquired the cd shortly thereafter. One wag commented there are great moments in Wagner operas and Bruckner symphonies; the moments are just so far apart.

The Mahler symphonies I listen to are Nos.1,5,6, as well as "Das Lied von der Erde" and "Kindertotenlieder."
I had the privilege of seeing the Ring in Toronto some years ago, and can vouch for the Wagner comment.. But such moments, though.
That's a pretty good Mahler hit list and matches mine, although I listen to a lot more of it, on occasion.

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by maestrob » Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:06 am

As a teenager, I was blown away by Bruno Walter's Bruckner IV, VII, & IX, and later George Szell's VIII with the Cleveland Orchestra. I was also strongly impressed by Solti's Mahler II (London), VII (Chicago), Leinsdorf's I (Boston) and Bernstein's Mahler overall. Personally, Henry, I think it matters a great deal if the music resonated with you at a young age. If not, so be it. I will say it took me a while to appreciate Bruckner's middle symphonies (V, VI), but I now love those as well, especially V.

That said, there are quite a few mediocre recordings of Bruckner available, and listening to those would definitely put me off if they were all I had available. Here's a list of some recommended recordings of the more popular symphonies:

IV: Bruno Walter/Columbia Symphony, Barenboim/Berlin Staatskappelle (DVD), Honeck/Pittsburgh

VII: Walter/Columbia Symphony, Barenboim/Berlin (DVD), HVK/Berlin (EMI), Nelsons/Leipzig

VIII: Szell/Cleveland, Giulini/Vienna, HVK/Vienna

IX: Walter/Columbia, HVK/Berlin, Honeck/Pittsburgh, Barenboim/Berlin (DVD)

De gustibus and all that. The above are simply my personal favorites.

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by diegobueno » Sun Mar 01, 2020 12:25 pm

Any performance of Bruckner 4th that lasts 77 minutes is waaaaayyyyyy toooooo slloooooowww!

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by maestrob » Sun Mar 01, 2020 12:54 pm

barney wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 8:02 am
I have some sympathy for your position. I have to be in the mood for Bruckner. But I love the fourth - I think it's magnificent. The opening always reminds me of Mahler 5.
And in the last months of his life, my friend Barry Tuckwell (separate thread) listened to Bruckner 8 more than anything.
Do you know the lovely story about Bruckner being invited to conduct the VPO? At the first rehearsal Bruckner, a delightfully modest man, took the podium and looked around. Eventually the concertmaster said to him, "whenever you are ready, Herr Bruckner." The composer replied, "Oh no gentlemen, after you!" :lol:
Good anecdote, Barney! :lol:

FWIW: My favorite Bruckner Symphony is also VIII, but only when it's done well, which is rarely (Please see list above.).

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by david johnson » Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:47 pm

slofstra wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 7:45 am
david johnson wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:29 am
I have never had a problem enjoying Bruckner's music :)
But doesn't it give you the feeling that you'd rather be listening to something else?

It's like Beethoven symphony number 1, which our local symphony performed last time out. Why? When we have 2 through 9.
No, and I enjoy Beethoven's 1st quite a bit :)

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by slofstra » Mon Mar 02, 2020 4:15 pm

Thanks for the various recommendations and comments. I looked at my catalogue and while I have a smattering of Bruckner recordings, the only rendition of the 4th symphony is Karl Boehm and the VSO within my 'Decca Sound' box set.

I checked my TIDAL music service, and there are 143 distinct recordings. So the next time I have 77 minutes (or ideally, somewhat less as suggested) I'll pull up the Bruno Walter rendition and have a listen.

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by slofstra » Mon Mar 02, 2020 4:22 pm

david johnson wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 2:47 pm
slofstra wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 7:45 am
david johnson wrote:
Sun Mar 01, 2020 3:29 am
I have never had a problem enjoying Bruckner's music :)
But doesn't it give you the feeling that you'd rather be listening to something else?

It's like Beethoven symphony number 1, which our local symphony performed last time out. Why? When we have 2 through 9.
No, and I enjoy Beethoven's 1st quite a bit :)
So, just out of idle curiousity, and if you don't object to the question, do you happen to like it better than any of numbers 2 through 9, and if so, which?

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by david johnson » Tue Mar 03, 2020 3:42 am

Better? No. I do listen to it much more than #8.

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by diegobueno » Tue Mar 03, 2020 6:23 am

slofstra wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 4:15 pm
So the next time I have 77 minutes (or ideally, somewhat less as suggested) I'll pull up the Bruno Walter rendition and have a listen.
Here's Otto Klemperer, my choice for the 4th. I don't know if it will change your opinion, but you can save yourself 17 minutes, for his runs exactly one hour.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56VBDwujEJc

maestrob
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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by maestrob » Tue Mar 03, 2020 10:40 am

Klemperer is good in Bruckner IV on EMI with the Philharmonia. I also have a live recording where he rushes the tempo a bit in the first movement, so I was careful not to include that one. His recording of VI was a favorite for quite a while, along with Solti's, but they have both been supplanted by Barenboim's DVD with the Berlin Staatskappelle Orchestra.

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by slofstra » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:49 pm

diegobueno wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 6:23 am
slofstra wrote:
Mon Mar 02, 2020 4:15 pm
So the next time I have 77 minutes (or ideally, somewhat less as suggested) I'll pull up the Bruno Walter rendition and have a listen.
Here's Otto Klemperer, my choice for the 4th. I don't know if it will change your opinion, but you can save yourself 17 minutes, for his runs exactly one hour.
I could see that. I love both the Klemperer Beethoven and Brahms sets (other than his surprisingly poor Beethoven 9th.) I'll listen to it CD quality on TIDAL.
Last edited by slofstra on Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by slofstra » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:50 pm

maestrob wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 10:40 am
Klemperer is good in Bruckner IV on EMI with the Philharmonia. I also have a live recording where he rushes the tempo a bit in the first movement, so I was careful not to include that one. His recording of VI was a favorite for quite a while, along with Solti's, but they have both been supplanted by Barenboim's DVD with the Berlin Staatskappelle Orchestra.
Okay, a second on Klemperer then!

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by Lance » Tue Mar 03, 2020 2:15 pm

While I have all the symphonies and much other music by Bruckner, it is only the 7th in E major that contains something special and memorable. And, of course, outside of Bruckner's 9th symphony, the seventh has an enormous number of recordings available. Knappertsbusch was allegedly one of his finest interpreters.
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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by barney » Tue Mar 03, 2020 6:25 pm

Lance wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 2:15 pm
While I have all the symphonies and much other music by Bruckner, it is only the 7th in E major that contains something special and memorable. And, of course, outside of Bruckner's 9th symphony, the seventh has an enormous number of recordings available. Knappertsbusch was allegedly one of his finest interpreters.
Is that so, Lance? Coincidentally I have just received and not yet opened a four-CD Eloquence collection of Kna doing Bruckner 3, 4, 5 and 8 with the VPO and Munich Phil.

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by diegobueno » Tue Mar 03, 2020 8:06 pm

The 7th was my "gateway drug" into Bruckner. It does have something special that the others don't have. Maybe it's that wonderful cello melody at the beginning. Maybe it's the fact that it's the only Bruckner symphony in a key not used by Beethoven in a symphony. Here it is conducted by Eugen Jochum, an all-around great Bruckner conductor


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VuMef33J6aA

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by Lance » Wed Mar 04, 2020 1:06 am

Now, THAT Eloquence set sounds like a winner. Kna's Bruckner 7th, however, is available on a number of labels. Eloquence is doing a marathon job in their reissue series. I have been in touch with them about certain things I would like to see reissued (from the DGG catalogue) and got a nice reply, but not seeing anything yet. See another post on Eloquence coming forth. Hope you enjoy's Kna's 3,4, 5 and 8!
barney wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 6:25 pm
Lance wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 2:15 pm
While I have all the symphonies and much other music by Bruckner, it is only the 7th in E major that contains something special and memorable. And, of course, outside of Bruckner's 9th symphony, the seventh has an enormous number of recordings available. Knappertsbusch was allegedly one of his finest interpreters.
Is that so, Lance? Coincidentally I have just received and not yet opened a four-CD Eloquence collection of Kna doing Bruckner 3, 4, 5 and 8 with the VPO and Munich Phil.
Lance G. Hill
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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by maestrob » Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:58 am

Lance wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 2:15 pm
While I have all the symphonies and much other music by Bruckner, it is only the 7th in E major that contains something special and memorable. And, of course, outside of Bruckner's 9th symphony, the seventh has an enormous number of recordings available. Knappertsbusch was allegedly one of his finest interpreters.
Knappertsbusch was a pioneer in Bruckner, and his Decca recordings are very fine for their day. V, however, has a massive cut in the final movement which today is deemed unnecessary. I don't care for the Westminster recording of VIII included in this set, however, as it lacks discipline. Don't be pulled in by his many recordings on other labels, however. I find that many of them lack discipline in entrances (Kna famously didn't care much for rehearsals). For those who are interested, here's the cover of his Decca Bruckner recordings which are being reissued in a single box set for $26.00 ($17.50 at Presto Classical) as of March 13th:

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Re: Can't warm to Bruckner

Post by Wallingford » Tue Mar 10, 2020 8:21 pm

My take on Bruckner?

About a quarter-century ago, when I lived in Seattle, I always hung around the lobby beforehand for 'will-call' tickets. The Seattle Symphony had two items on the agenda--a Mozart piano concerto, featuring soloist Alicia DeLarrocha and maestro Gerard Schwarz, and Bruckner's Fifth. How was a Bruckner symphony going to follow up two of the main stars of the Mostly Mozart Festival? I left after the concerto. I was satisfied.
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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