Author Topic: Bruckner's Abbey  (Read 460763 times)

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Choo Choo

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #160 on: June 13, 2007, 01:03:18 AM »
Well I hope no-one buys this based solely on my recommendation, as my tastes in these things are well known to be, shall we say, somewhat "individual".  Which is why I try to stay out of the discussions, mostly.

However it is certainly true that once a Dutton issue sells out, that's it.  I was too slow off the mark when Dutton were flogging off their Jensen/Nielsen recordings, and once I realised what I'd missed, no amount of pleading would get Michael Dutton to source me a copy.

Offline MishaK

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #161 on: June 13, 2007, 05:33:34 AM »
I am also curious about the Ninth Symphony and the various attempts to bring the fragmentary finale to the public.

If you're interested in the finale for the 9th, I would get the Harnoncourt/VPO recording first as it contains a performance of all surviving original fragments (which is actually quite a bit) as well as a lecture by Harnoncourt on what the finale would have been like if it had been completed (which is actually very informative as Harnoncourt also provides a general primer on Brucknerian symphonic structure). The early 80's Carragan completion (recorded by Talmi and others) is quite frankly wretched. It makes all the errors Harnoncourt assaults in his lecture, in particular it "corrects" many harmonic clashes without which Bruckner would not be Bruckner, thus turning it into undramatic mush. I am unfamiliar with the Samale/Mazucca version. Carragan revised his version 2003 and again 2006 (hopefully correcting his prior errors and incorporatnig newly discoevred original material) and there is also Marthe version from last year, which should also incorporate the most recent scholarship. But I have not heard either one of those and recordings of these are few and far between.

Choo Choo

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #162 on: June 13, 2007, 05:48:35 AM »
I find the the Mazzucca/Cohrs/etc reconstruction makes a much more convincing case than that wretched Carragan effort.  Of the two recordings I have, Eichhorn/Linz is the better performance overall, but Wildner/Westphalia on Naxos is a good runner-up - and actually not a bad #9 with or without the Finale (and also cheap, if it's still available.)

You do have to bear in mind that, as Robert Simpson puts it, "this is not a Mahler #10 situation".  If a Bruckner symphony is a cathedral, then what we here are the blocks in the stonemasons' yard round the back, from which it was intended that the missing North Transept would one day have been constructed.  A good deal of "creativity" goes into any attempt to make more of it than a forensic survey of the various bits.

Offline MishaK

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #163 on: June 13, 2007, 05:57:44 AM »
I find the the Mazzucca/Cohrs/etc reconstruction makes a much more convincing case than that wretched Carragan effort.  Of the two recordings I have, Eichhorn/Linz is the better performance overall, but Wildner/Westphalia on Naxos is a good runner-up - and actually not a bad #9 with or without the Finale (and also cheap, if it's still available.)

Thanks for that. I will seek out those discs. The Naxos at that price should be a fairly low risk purchase.

You do have to bear in mind that, as Robert Simpson puts it, "this is not a Mahler #10 situation".  If a Bruckner symphony is a cathedral, then what we here are the blocks in the stonemasons' yard round the back, from which it was intended that the missing North Transept would one day have been constructed.  A good deal of "creativity" goes into any attempt to make more of it than a forensic survey of the various bits.

Yes and no. Have you listened to the Harnoncourt? There is actually a substantial amount of the finale that Bruckner finished and completely orchestrated. The problem is that a number of transitions are missing and it's anybody's guess how he meant to get from one unrelated key to another. Also, the final section of the finale was supposed to be a gigantic fugue of the main themes from the 5th, 7th, 8th and the preceding movements of the 9th and we have at best scant information as to what that was supposed to look and sound like.

Choo Choo

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #164 on: June 13, 2007, 06:10:07 AM »
Have you listened to the Harnoncourt?

Yes I have.  Well, mostly.  My problem with that recording, as with all of Harnoncourt's Bruckner that I've heard (in the concert hall as well as on disk) is staying awake until the end.  One of these days I'm hoping to manage it.

Offline MishaK

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #165 on: June 13, 2007, 06:38:50 AM »
Yes I have.  Well, mostly.  My problem with that recording, as with all of Harnoncourt's Bruckner that I've heard (in the concert hall as well as on disk) is staying awake until the end.  One of these days I'm hoping to manage it.

Well, you really need to only listen to the fragments of the finale. Those are not that long.

Offline beclemund

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #166 on: June 13, 2007, 06:55:29 AM »
Well I hope no-one buys this based solely on my recommendation, as my tastes in these things are well known to be, shall we say, somewhat "individual".  Which is why I try to stay out of the discussions, mostly.

It was quite nearly compelling enough with the bad recording I listened to. With an understanding that it is far from a decent transfer, I am curious enough to hear what a good transfer might sound like. And in the end, I plan on donating it to the library, so even if I am disappointed by it, it will not be a lost cause. :)

I do enjoy Böhm's '73 Vienna recording, so it makes for an interesting exploration.
"A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession." -- Albert Camus

Heather Harrison

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #167 on: June 13, 2007, 06:43:55 PM »
Today, I listened to Nos. 6 and 7 (and Mass No. 2).

Symphony No. 6 seemed like somewhat of a continuation of No. 5; a similar dark, introspective mood was present.  However, the mood seemed a bit more varied and I tried to figure out what this symphony had to say, with only limited success.  To not quite "get" a late Romantic symphony on the first hearing isn't entirely unusual; if anything, it is a good sign that there might be some real depth to it.  This is one that I will be spending more time with.

Symphony No. 7, in contrast, exhibited a return to the power and grandeur of some of the earlier ones, and was more immediately easy to appreciate.  It would be hard for me to find words to describe the slow movement; it is almost a half-hour of sheer beauty that had me completely absorbed.

Mass No. 2 is more austere and serene than No. 1.  It lacks soloists, and the orchestra consists only of woodwinds and brass.  It is polyphonically rich (as is much of Bruckner's music) and, in a way, sounds both ancient and Romantic at the same time.  There is a lot going on here; I will certainly have to listen to it a few more times to gain a deeper understanding.

I'm about through the symphonies and masses; I suppose the next step will be to listen to some of them a few more times to gain a better understanding, and to collect some additional performances and check out alternate versions.  Bruckner certainly is a fascinating composer.

Heather

Offline MishaK

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #168 on: June 14, 2007, 05:05:25 AM »
Symphony No. 6 seemed like somewhat of a continuation of No. 5; a similar dark, introspective mood was present.  However, the mood seemed a bit more varied and I tried to figure out what this symphony had to say, with only limited success.  To not quite "get" a late Romantic symphony on the first hearing isn't entirely unusual; if anything, it is a good sign that there might be some real depth to it.  This is one that I will be spending more time with.

Not sure I agree with that. The 5th has that incredible, glorious finale with that massive fugue that is kicked off by the clarinet's quizzical interruptions of quotations from the prior three movements. It's rather unique in Bruckner's output. The 6th by contrast is in many ways Bruckner's most intimate symphony.

Symphony No. 7, in contrast, exhibited a return to the power and grandeur of some of the earlier ones, and was more immediately easy to appreciate.  It would be hard for me to find words to describe the slow movement; it is almost a half-hour of sheer beauty that had me completely absorbed.

It is also an endless exercise in inversion by contrary motion. It's really astounding how far Bruckner could take the concept.

Mass No. 2 is more austere and serene than No. 1.  It lacks soloists, and the orchestra consists only of woodwinds and brass.  It is polyphonically rich (as is much of Bruckner's music) and, in a way, sounds both ancient and Romantic at the same time.  There is a lot going on here; I will certainly have to listen to it a few more times to gain a deeper understanding.

To me, Mass No. 2 has one of the most magical openings of any work in the entire musical catalogue. It is also a pinnacle of Bruckner's experimentation with Beethoven's concept from the first movement of the 9th where a theme gradually materializes out of nothingness. The openings of most of his symphonies starting with the 3rd are some variation of this idea, some more openly so (e.g. the 3rd which takes the actual melody of the theme from Beethoven's 9th as it's main theme and the 8th which takes the rhythm of the opening theme of Beethoven's 9th for the rhythm of its main theme).

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #169 on: June 14, 2007, 05:15:49 AM »
Not sure I agree with that. The 5th has that incredible, glorious finale with that massive fugue that is kicked off by the clarinet's quizzical interruptions of quotations from the prior three movements. It's rather unique in Bruckner's output. The 6th by contrast is in many ways Bruckner's most intimate symphony.

Not sure I agree with that last statement. I hear, at least in the first movement, a wide-screen, cinematic sweep and grandeur. Nothing intimate about it. But then, the main theme sounds remarkably similar to the main theme of Lawrence of Arabia. Maybe if I could get that allusion out of my head it would sound more intimate. ;D

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

karlhenning

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #170 on: June 14, 2007, 05:18:09 AM »
. . . kicked off by the clarinet's quizzical interruptions of quotations from the prior three movements. It's rather unique in Bruckner's output.

But . . . now, what does that remind me of?  8)

karlhenning

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #171 on: June 14, 2007, 05:19:26 AM »
Mass No. 2 is more austere and serene than No. 1.  It lacks soloists, and the orchestra consists only of woodwinds and brass.  It is polyphonically rich (as is much of Bruckner's music) and, in a way, sounds both ancient and Romantic at the same time.  There is a lot going on here; I will certainly have to listen to it a few more times to gain a deeper understanding.

Yes, Heather, this made a very favorable impression when I heard it sung live here in Boston.

Offline MishaK

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #172 on: June 14, 2007, 06:04:12 AM »
But then, the main theme sounds remarkably similar to the main theme of Lawrence of Arabia. Maybe if I could get that allusion out of my head it would sound more intimate. ;D

Now that's a stretch. I can see why you would say that though.

Offline MishaK

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #173 on: June 14, 2007, 06:05:29 AM »
But . . . now, what does that remind me of?  8)

Yes, obviously. But LvB does it a bit differently.

Offline beclemund

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #174 on: June 14, 2007, 08:52:18 AM »
However it is certainly true that once a Dutton issue sells out, that's it.  I was too slow off the mark when Dutton were flogging off their Jensen/Nielsen recordings, and once I realised what I'd missed, no amount of pleading would get Michael Dutton to source me a copy.

It would seem Dutton's last copy of Böhm's '36 4th is completely sold out now.  ;)

For others interested, however, there are two copies available from Amazon US marketplace sellers.
"A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession." -- Albert Camus

Philoctetes

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #175 on: June 14, 2007, 10:34:14 AM »
I love the robustness of Bruckner's symphonies. They contain the element that I seek the most in the orchestral music I listen to, with the most frequency.

Lots of brass.

Heather Harrison

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #176 on: June 14, 2007, 04:18:58 PM »
Today, I finished listening to the Bruckner sets.

The last two symphonies are so massive and complex that my first impressions are unlikely to do justice to them.  As with No. 7, both have massive nearly-half-hour slow movements which seemed to draw me into their sound world.  While the other movements may have more power and grandeur, it is these slow movements that I find especially appealing.  Within the other movements, I found the scherzo of No. 9 quite fascinating; it is quite a stormy piece, with a rather unusual trio.  I definitely want to listen to these symphonies a few more times before developing a strong opinion.  But so far, I like them very much.

Mass No. 3, like No. 1, includes soloists and the full symphony orchestra; it is a powerful, complex piece of music that varies considerably in mood.

This exercise in listening to Bruckner's symphonies and masses, one after another, over a relatively short time, has been fascinating.  I have gone through them and come up with first impressions, which may be unreliable.  Subsequent hearings will likely cause me to change my mind about some of the ideas I have posted here.  And for those pieces which I didn't find immediately accessible, subsequent hearings will help me understand them better.  Music this complex can seldom be understood well without repeated serious listening, so I can't claim to understand them now.

I am glad I finally got around to going through Bruckner's music; there is a lot here that I like, and I will likely be listening to these CDs often in the future.  Now I wish the Utah Symphony would perform a Bruckner symphony or mass; they do a great job with other late Romantic repertoire (i.e. Mahler, Elgar) so I am sure they would give a good performance of Bruckner's music.

Heather

Bonehelm

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #177 on: June 15, 2007, 04:20:15 PM »
Is it just me or does anyone hear a glimpse of classical music (Haydn, Mozart, early LvB) in Bruckner's symphonies? Also, the structure is always four movements...interesting.

Heather Harrison

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #178 on: June 15, 2007, 06:33:24 PM »
I noted that too; I do find it interesting that he stuck to the four-movement form, while at the same time pushing the envelope in other ways.  Apparently, he considered Beethoven to be a strong influence, so it shouldn't be surprising to hear a bit of the influence of the later Classic period in his work.  I also noticed a bit of this while listening to his symphonies, and as I explore them more deeply, perhaps I will find more.

Heather

Offline MishaK

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Re: Bruckner's Abbey
« Reply #179 on: June 15, 2007, 07:29:52 PM »
Is it just me or does anyone hear a glimpse of classical music (Haydn, Mozart, early LvB) in Bruckner's symphonies? Also, the structure is always four movements...interesting.

That's one of my favorite things about Bruckner: he seems to be looking farther into the past and farther into the future at the same time. His chorales (whether for brass in his symphonies or for voices in his masses) hark back to plainchant and the entire Christian musical tradition, while his chromaticism, dissonances, orchestration and harmonic clashes look forward beyond late romanticism deep into modernism. That's what makes those enormous symphonies of his a continuing source of discovery and rediscovery.