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UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 2005

BRUCKNER SYMPHONIES: AN INTRODUCTION AND REVIEW OF SELECTED RECORDINGS

by Patrick Waller and John Quinn

This article was originally published on MusicWeb in February 2005 (link 1). Our thanks go to those who posted comments related to it on the bulletin board (link 2). At that time we indicated that we were considering trying to keep it up-to-date and we have decided to do this by means of this short separate article which will be linked both ways to and from the original. If there appear to be contradictions between the two, this is because life has moved on, we have listened again and views have changed – so what is below now takes precedence. Having said that, at the end of the original article we gave some recommendations and our top five Bruckner symphony recordings - these have not [yet] changed.

Daniel Barenboim’s Bruckner hardly featured in February but then, almost immediately, his “complete” Berlin set arrived for review (link 3). PW was more impressed than he expected to be and this set is certainly very good value. Hard on its heels was Skrowaczewski’s Saarbrücken set, even more complete. Whilst being artistically preferable to Barenboim this set is expensive and presently a commercial non-starter (link 4).

Quite recently EMI have released some early Karajan/Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra recordings and both the 7th (link 5) and 8th (link 6) remain impressive. PW was particularly taken with the 8th which sounds amazing for 1957 and still competes with his 1988 Vienna recording. Regarding the 7th, he clearly prefers the early 70s Berlin version to the 1989 Vienna recording made just before Karajan’s death.

One of the recordings discussed on the bulletin board related to Karl Böhm’s Vienna 1976 recording of the 8th. PW has since heard and greatly enjoyed this performance. Böhm seems to use a mixture of the Haas and Nowak editions and is quite middle-of-the-road in terms of tempi. The playing is wonderful and the phrasing has the same natural eloquence that marks out his classic version of the 4th symphony. This performance squeezes onto a single mid-price CD (DG 463 081-2) that plays for just over 80 minutes and is a plausible library choice for anyone wanting just one version of this work. PW hasn’t yet made up his mind whether it even supplants Wand’s last recording in his affections – some more listening is required.

In recent months JQ has busy reviewing other things and has been taking an unintentional Bruckner sabbatical. He now has Haitink’s recent live 8th from Amsterdam in his player, so watch out for a review soon.

Finally, a curiosity – Bruckner’s 3rd for piano duet, mostly arranged by a very youthful Mahler (link 7). PW enjoyed this a lot – just have a listen to the scherzo and you might be surprised. He hasn’t yet persuaded JQ to listen to it but you never know!

Patrick C Waller
John Quinn

Links

1. http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Feb05/Bruckner_symphonies_PWJQ.htm
2. http://members2.boardhost.com/MusicWebUK/msg/1883.html
3. http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Mar05/bruckner_barenboim_2564618912.htm
4. http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/July05/Bruckner_Symphonies_OC207.htm
5. http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Aug05/Bruckner7_4768882.htm
6. http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/Aug05/Bruckner8_karajan_4-76901-2.htm
7. http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/July05/bruckner3_mahler_33005912.htm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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