Bruckner

Barry
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Post by Barry » Sat Dec 02, 2006 9:29 pm

Micha wrote:Yes, that was that year....it weas the last time I saw Wand live. It makes me a little sad to think of that. I don't think I will ever hear something quite like that again.

RE Eschenbach, I have his recording of the 4th with the Orchestre de Paris. It is quite good, the orchestral sound fairly light and bright, but pleasantly sonorous. But it doesn't knock me off the couch. There is a tendency to slowness in that performance, but a slowness that Eschenbach can not quite fill out. He just isn't the master of the long line he apparently wants to be. But it's an OK performance.
Yes. Several of the best Bruckner conductors of recent times have died off in the past few years; and Sawallisch is now retired. There aren't as many outstanding Bruckner conductors left. He's been coming for three weeks every other season for a while now and has already conducted strong performances of Bruckner's seventh and ninth.

I agree with your comment on Eschenbach not filling out the slowness in that Bruckner fourth and felt the same way when I saw him conduct the seventh with the Philadelphia Orchestra. I'm hoping for a better ninth from him next month. I've been much more impressed with his Mahler. He's about two-thirds of the way through a five-year complete Mahler cycle here and the only weak performance so far has been the ninth.

I lament that I have not had more opportunities to hear Bruckner's eighth live. It's my favorite Bruckner symphony and one of my favorite pieces, period, but I've only heard it live once; that one being a very strong performance by Haitink and the VPO in New York. I missed a chance to hear Sawallisch conduct it about a decade ago because I hadn't yet caught the Bruckner bug (it took me a long time to warm to his music, but once I did, he became one of my favorites.....probably behind only Beethoven and Brahms), and it hasn't been performed in Philadelphia since. I'm hoping Eschenbach will fit it in during his remaining time here or that Rattle will conduct it during one of his guest stints.
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pizza
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Post by pizza » Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:09 am

There is still one truly great Bruckner conductor left: Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. I normally don't suggest buying complete sets of works, but I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to recommend Skrowaczewski's complete Bruckner cycle on Arte Nova with the Saarbrucken RSO. Aside from the fact that it includes all of his symphonic works, including 0 and 00, and that the 12 CDs cost a mere pittance, there isn't a dud in the entire bunch, and many are equal to or surpass other mainstream recordings that have received great critical acclaim. His 5th and 6th are world-class, and the 8th and 9th are right up there with the very best. All are well-recorded.

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Post by moldyoldie » Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:28 am

Concerning Bruckner's Eighth, I perhaps made the mistake of purchasing DG's 2-disc full-price Karajan/VPO as my introduction to the work. On first listen, I was thoroughly unconvinced as to the hype surrounding its release and the raves from the critics. Like viewing a Tarkovsky film, it took three or four listens before its artistic merits began to "sink in", so to speak. I now enjoy the recording and am in sympathy with those who find the performance transcendental.

It leads me to believe that for those uninitiated in the Eighth, or in Bruckner per se, Karajan/VPO is not the way to go. I've read that Boulez's recording, or perhaps one equally clinical and more apace, is probably a better choice for Bruckner neophytes.

As the Karajan/VPO Eighth, one could probably say the same for Bruckner conducted by the likes of Celibidache, whose Fourth I enjoy very much along with recordings from Klemperer, Jochum, and Abbado. Inbal's Fourth with the original Scherzo movement and other peculiarities is also an interesting, well-played, but "alternative" listen.

For the record, Klemperer is my "reference" in Bruckner's Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh -- I can't say I enjoy the Fifth, but I'll stand by his Fourth as a first-choice recommendation. I listened to and enjoyed Wand's live Sixth on RCA last evening.

Harold Tucker
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Post by Harold Tucker » Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:38 am

Charm Newton wrote:


The Ormandy recording used the Original Version of the score (I don't believe the Fifth went through a lot of revisions like other symphonies) not the Schalk. It runs 71+ minutes. Knappertsbusch/VPO did use the Schalk edition.

I stand corrected. It is a Nowak. I have no idea where my memory went on that one.

rogch
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Post by rogch » Sun Dec 03, 2006 11:58 am

I have not heard the Cleveland/Szell version of the eigth and it is not easy to find these days. But there is a recording with Szell and the Vienna Philharmonic on the label Living Stage. I have no idea how it sounds, but since it is recorded in 1968 the sound quality should not be too dreadfull. And Szell and the Vienna Philharmonic sounds like a winning combination.

There are still a few good Bruckner conductors around. Apart from Skrowaczewski we have Haitink, Chailly and Harnoncourt. As always the latter is interesting because most people agree he has some good recordings and some lousy ones, but not everybody agrees which recordings belong to which category.

The Chailly set was well received when it was new, but the interest seems to have faded. I bought it and found it very satisfying as a set, although there will always be a couple of weak spots.
Roger Christensen

"Mozart is the most inaccessible of the great masters"
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CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Sun Dec 03, 2006 1:54 pm

moldyoldie wrote:Concerning Bruckner's Eighth, I perhaps made the mistake of purchasing DG's 2-disc full-price Karajan/VPO as my introduction to the work. On first listen, I was thoroughly unconvinced as to the hype surrounding its release and the raves from the critics. Like viewing a Tarkovsky film, it took three or four listens before its artistic merits began to "sink in", so to speak. I now enjoy the recording and am in sympathy with those who find the performance transcendental.

It leads me to believe that for those uninitiated in the Eighth, or in Bruckner per se, Karajan/VPO is not the way to go. I've read that Boulez's recording, or perhaps one equally clinical and more apace, is probably a better choice for Bruckner neophytes.

As the Karajan/VPO Eighth, one could probably say the same for Bruckner conducted by the likes of Celibidache, whose Fourth I enjoy very much along with recordings from Klemperer, Jochum, and Abbado. Inbal's Fourth with the original Scherzo movement and other peculiarities is also an interesting, well-played, but "alternative" listen.

For the record, Klemperer is my "reference" in Bruckner's Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh -- I can't say I enjoy the Fifth, but I'll stand by his Fourth as a first-choice recommendation. I listened to and enjoyed Wand's live Sixth on RCA last evening.
I bought Karajan's recording when it was first released and have never enjoyed it. Like Furtwangler's, his readings seem mannered and pulled around. The orchestra lacks the sound of a giant chorus that I hear in other interpreters, like Szell, Giulini and Walter. If one listens to Bruckner's Motets, I think it is easier to grasp the spirituality in his music. But that is my taste. I would recommend any novice to Bruckner start with the Motets. They are short and powerful, given their modest resources.

John

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Sun Dec 03, 2006 2:05 pm

rogch wrote:I have not heard the Cleveland/Szell version of the eigth and it is not easy to find these days. But there is a recording with Szell and the Vienna Philharmonic on the label Living Stage. I have no idea how it sounds, but since it is recorded in 1968 the sound quality should not be too dreadfull. And Szell and the Vienna Philharmonic sounds like a winning combination.
The Living Stage recording is a great performance and the Finale really crackles. In my opinion, it is not quite the equal to the Cleveland recording, which has a spaciousness, spontaneous sublimity and spirituality not achieved in the VPO performance. The Cleveland recording is about five minutes longer, is better recorded (although the sound is starting to show its age) and displays richer orchestral sonority. They are both worth having. BRO still has the VPO performance for $4 U.S.

John

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Post by burnitdown » Sun Dec 03, 2006 2:11 pm

Barry Z wrote: As with his earlier recordings of the fourth and sixth, I like his slowish tempos, but the climaxes struck me as a little lacking in power.
However, he did lead a sensational performance of the eigth with the VPO at the Proms last year.
The Eighth does seem like it would fit his personality more than the fourth. Interesting feedback, and I'm grateful. Will post an assessment of Graf after the show (only a month and a half away). I'm anticipating he will be a better conductor of Bruckner than Eschenbach, whose brahms I liked.

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Post by burnitdown » Sun Dec 03, 2006 2:19 pm

CharmNewton wrote:[I bought Karajan's recording when it was first released and have never enjoyed it. Like Furtwangler's, his readings seem mannered and pulled around.
There's truth to this. He's good with crescendoes, but doesn't get how it all connects. It's as if he Beethovenizes Bruckner. Where Beethoven is written as a direct narrative, Bruckner is more about mood... and it takes a special conductor to recognize that.

^^^ relatively uninformed but strong opinion

Barry
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Post by Barry » Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:36 pm

burnitdown wrote:
Barry Z wrote: As with his earlier recordings of the fourth and sixth, I like his slowish tempos, but the climaxes struck me as a little lacking in power.
However, he did lead a sensational performance of the eigth with the VPO at the Proms last year.
The Eighth does seem like it would fit his personality more than the fourth. Interesting feedback, and I'm grateful. Will post an assessment of Graf after the show (only a month and a half away). I'm anticipating he will be a better conductor of Bruckner than Eschenbach, whose brahms I liked.
Thanks. I agree with you. The fourth is the one Bruckner symphony for which I like a more super-aggressive, faster approach, a la Jochum/BPO.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

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Micha

Post by Micha » Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:49 pm

moldyoldie wrote:Concerning Bruckner's Eighth, I perhaps made the mistake of purchasing DG's 2-disc full-price Karajan/VPO as my introduction to the work. On first listen, I was thoroughly unconvinced as to the hype surrounding its release and the raves from the critics. Like viewing a Tarkovsky film, it took three or four listens before its artistic merits began to "sink in", so to speak. I now enjoy the recording and am in sympathy with those who find the performance transcendental.

It leads me to believe that for those uninitiated in the Eighth, or in Bruckner per se, Karajan/VPO is not the way to go. I've read that Boulez's recording, or perhaps one equally clinical and more apace, is probably a better choice for Bruckner neophytes.
I don't quite understand what the "problem" is a lot of people seem to have with Karajan's late Bruckner 8 recording. I think it's mostly anti-Karajan bias because IMHO this is one of his best Bruckner recordings. The music making isn't at all as brightly polished and rounded off as a lot of his other recordings, the general tone is more "earthy" and "intimate" and there is more contours than he had outlined in some of his earlier Bruckner recordings. All in all a very satisfying and not at all mannered and glossy performance. I was actually surprised a little by this because many of his late recordings are much more generalized and less musically detailed than this.

I guess in your case it may have simply have been that, as you said, this was your introduction to the work. Maybe the time it took you was to get inside the music, not specifically this recording which you now say you find "transcendental", an opinion I can agree. This performance has the right balance between the important elements, that's why it puzzles me so much what some people say about it.

It is not my personal favorite, that is and will probably always be Giulini/WP which I think is among the most amazing recordings of anything I have heard, but it is an outstandingly good recording by a conductor who has made quite a few very good Bruckner recordings.

I also don't understand how one can say he didn't understand "how it all fit together". At that point it gets plainly silly.

BTW, the Boulez recording isn't "clinical" at all. It is well structured and fairly straightforward, but not "clinical", especially not because the sound is so rich and overly reverberant (because it was recorded in the Stiftskirche in St.Florian).

I don't understand what is meant by "the orchestra has to sound like a giant chorus". What does that mean?

Barry
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Post by Barry » Sun Dec 03, 2006 4:09 pm

Micha wrote:
I don't understand what is meant by "the orchestra has to sound like a giant chorus". What does that mean?
I'm not real good with terminology, but I've noticed I like an organ-like sound in a Bruckner orchestra. The attacks should be soft with the brass just kind of flowing in and layering on top of the strings like blocks of sound. I listened to two performances of the fifth symphony last night; Rozhdestvensky's on Russian Revelation and Sawallisch/Philadelphia from the PO's download site. I enjoyed the latter so much more. Sawallisch was so good at drawing the type of orchestral sound and textures that I think work perfectly for that symphony. I generally am not nuts about the sound of the top American orchestras (CSO, Cleveland, NYP) in Bruckner. The brass blairs a bit too much instead of coming in softly like layers of sound. But Sawallisch's last several Bruckner performances in Philadelphia were exceptions. He had the orchestra sounding more like a top European orchestra than the other top American orchestras much of the time. He also did a great job of slowly building up the orchestra, again, almost in layers for the big climaxes. I hate it when a conductor rushes through those and takes out the spiritual quality of the music in the process. That's what I thought happened when I saw Welser-Most and Cleveland perform it last season in Severance Hall. I can see some people, those who like Szell and Solti's Bruckner possibly, loving the performance (it's going to be out on DVD), but it was almost the polar opposite of how I like the fifth to be played. All of my favorite performances of it (Jochum/Concertegouw/1986, Karajan/BPO, Sawallisch/Philly) are in the 80-83 minute range.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:37 pm

Micha wrote:[
I don't understand what is meant by "the orchestra has to sound like a giant chorus". What does that mean?
To my ears, there is a richness to Bruckner's orchestral sound that I also hear in his choral music. I mentioned the motets. I don't find it a great stretch to imagine that Bruckner used orchestral and harmonic color to mimic the sound of massed human voices. For me, Bruckner's orchestral music sings and breathes, just like in those motets. One can hear these qualities in both of the other recordings you mentioned--Boulez and Giulini, especially the latter, but the Boulez performance is moving too. Karajsn's view of Bruckner just seems to be different, and his tempi (especially the 1957 recording) seem to shift gears unnaturally. These performances don't sing for me, although the 1988 recording improves on the one from 1957 (I've never heard the earlier DG).

Those who listen to Bruckner's symphonies and haven't heard the motets should do so, if for no other reason than these works are so beautiful and moving.

I hope this clarifies my statement for you.

John

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Post by Stonebraker » Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:39 pm

Wand
Szell
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Micha

Post by Micha » Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:45 pm

CharmNewton wrote:I hope this clarifies my statement for you.



Yes, it does. I wasn't sure exactly what you meant because one could also understand that as "the orchestra has to have a rich and blended and somewhat diffuse sound" - which I couldn't agree with, because Bruckner also needs a certain degree of clarity and definition and also because those recordings you cited (e.g. Giulini) don't sound like that at all.

But I understand what you mean by breathing and I agree it's extremely important, ad that's exactly what you get from Giulini whose recording of the 8th for me is almost a miracle of music making, the organic, breathing, long sustained but richly detailed lines that Giulini achieves with the orchestra, and how the orchestra sounds both rich and sonorous and well defined at the same time, almost like a chamber orchestra, but without lacking the weight you expect from such a big orchestra and also need in climaxes.

Part of that is obviously due to the WP which has the ideal sound, balance, and playing culture for this music, but Giulini also aachieves an extra element of concentration and lyrical intensity.

It is also fascinating to see how Giulini conducted. I saw him conduct the 8th live in Berlin, among many other great concerts with him (he came to Berlin every year for 3 programs or so, that was always an event). There is also a video of the 8th with the "World Philharmonic Orchestra" which isn't as good as the WP orchestrally, but you can see the way Giulini conducted, how he constantly carefully shaped the lines, how he prepared the orchestra well in advance for what was about to come up, so the performances could unfold organically and freely flowing.

I haven't listened to the HvK 8ths I have, so I would have to do that again to refresh my mind, although I do remember I always liked the late 8th a lot and found it very natural and "idiomatic", much more than a lot of things he did in his final years or in the 70s and 80s in general during which time you often find Karajan surveying the music from the summit rather being inside it. The 8th finds him very much inside the music again. I also have the DVD, so I will watch that some time soon.
I don't remember much about the 70s one, and I never got quite into the 50s recording because it is fairly slow and does indeed appear a little incoherent and wandering. But it is very interesting because it shows Karajan and the BP in a kind of transitional style between Furtwängler and Karajan's later style.
There is also a recording made with the Preussische Staatskapelle in 1944 of which the first movement is lost, but then the finale was recorded in stereo (!), and it is a very interesting and musical performance, too.


About the organ comparison: That is often made, but it's not really quite true. Yes, there are organ like elements in Bruckner's music, a certain register way of thinking, but there are also very "un-organ" elements in the music. Bruckner was a killer organ player, but he wrote the symphonies for orchestra, not for organ, and the orchestra is not supposed to simply "imitate" and organ.
The association is often there because of the sacral elements in the music which are easily associated with an organ like sound because that is what you normally hear in a church environment. But again, these elements are not all that is in the music.

But however one wants to call the sound that is needed for Bruckner's symphonies, I totally agree with the comments made about the role the brass plays in that sound, and the way it should *not* be.
There are moments when the brass is needed to play full steam ahead and there are moments when the textures need to be very celarly and sharply articulated, but the athletic brass band approach often heard from American orchestras is grossly out of style. Even Giulini wasn't quite able to get the right kind of sound layering from the CSO in his generally very nice recording of the 9th. At times I find it almost unpleasant how much the trumpets try to dominate the textures all the time. That kind of brass style also generally lacks the warmth and depth of tone that you need in softer passages.

There is certainly a lot of sound and power needed, but in the right doses and in the right places and with the right kind of tone, brilliant but unforced. Again Giulini and the WP demonstrate a nearly ideal Bruckner sound in their recordings, as far as brass is concerned especially the 9th with its very rich and warm and well integrated sound but also the almost apocalyptical playing - in the right places, such as the climax of the development or the end of the first movement, or the climaxes in the scherzo.

I do enjoy a leaner, approach with brighter sonorities as well, if it is musically well done and not just a blarefest. Impressing and IMO very successful examples for this are the Bruckner 4 with LAP/Salonen or the recordings by the Cleveland O with Christop von D.

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:17 am

About all the great Bruckner conductors dying off (Celebidache, Wand, Tintner, etc.)----what about Christian Thielemann? I heard his Fifth on t.v. and it was well-shaped and sonorous. He's still young (as conductors go).

Could he perhaps become a "great Brucknerian"?

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

Cyril Ignatius
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Post by Cyril Ignatius » Mon Dec 04, 2006 10:11 am

pizza wrote:There is still one truly great Bruckner conductor left: Stanislaw Skrowaczewski. I normally don't suggest buying complete sets of works, but I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to recommend Skrowaczewski's complete Bruckner cycle on Arte Nova with the Saarbrucken RSO. Aside from the fact that it includes all of his symphonic works, including 0 and 00, and that the 12 CDs cost a mere pittance, there isn't a dud in the entire bunch, and many are equal to or surpass other mainstream recordings that have received great critical acclaim. His 5th and 6th are world-class, and the 8th and 9th are right up there with the very best. All are well-recorded.
Skrowaczewski is one of the great Bruckner conductors. I attended his conducting of the Brucker 7th with the National Symphony Orchestra a few years ago, and have a nice recording of his Bruckner No. 8.

I would certainly recommend those recordings of Wand's I have at this point, No.s 4, 5, and 9.

Abbado's # 9 is excellent.

Herbert Von Karajan is a very solid Bruckner conductor.

I have Karl Bohm's No. 4 and would like more from him.

Boulez' No. 8 with the Vienna PO, recorded right at St Florian is highly acclaimed.
Cyril Ignatius

Barry
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Post by Barry » Mon Dec 04, 2006 10:36 am

Jack Kelso wrote:About all the great Bruckner conductors dying off (Celebidache, Wand, Tintner, etc.)----what about Christian Thielemann? I heard his Fifth on t.v. and it was well-shaped and sonorous. He's still young (as conductors go).

Could he perhaps become a "great Brucknerian"?

Jack
Good question. He may have that kind of potential. I mentioned that he cancelled when I was supposed to see him conduct the fifth, but I do have his recording of it. I like his tempos, but he doesn't quite hit the climaxes as well as my favorites in this symphony do. Still, it's a good enough performance to entice me to buy his next Bruckner recording. I saw on this season's VPO schedule that Thielemann is leading them in Bruckner's eighth. I'm hoping that will be taped and released by DG.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

Micha

Post by Micha » Mon Dec 04, 2006 9:19 pm

Cyril Ignatius wrote: Abbado's # 9 is excellent.
Seriously? I love his 4th and 5th, I think they are among the best recordings I know of these works, and the 7th is really nice, too (I also watched the video of the 7th made with the LFO, and that seemed even better, more lyrically detailed than the earlier WP recording) but I was seriously disappointed by the 9th. It doesn't seem to make much musical sense, the phrasing is strangely awkward and lumbering and often not really going anywhere, and the orchestra isn' quite as good as they usually are in this music either. I found this a very strange disc and was puzzled by what I heard. I would almost go as far as saying this is the worst Abbado recording I know. I really don't understand what happened, they must have had one (or two) of these off nights which happen even to the best orchestras and conductors.
Or what am I missing? I listened to it several times, wanting to like it because I like the other Abbado recordings of Bruckner symphonies very much, but I couldn't find much real merit in it.
That said, I also found the 1st with the WP (on DG) strangely incoherent and unconvincing. I know there is also a much earlier recording of the 1st with the same forces on Decca, but I haven't heard it. But I watched excerpts of the performance (which was filmed) in an Abbado docu, and it sounded very interesting.
I think it would be great if he also did the 8th.

Another Bruckner conductor which I enjoy immensely who I don't think has been mentioned before is Sinopoli. He recorded 3,4,5,7,8,9 in Dresden, and I think these recordings are all outstanding. They benefit from the glorious sound and very stylish playing of the SD and from Sinopoli's very expressive, but at the same time also analytical concept.
The 7th in particular is among my all time favorite recordings of this work, it just sounds marvelous, very beautiful and grand, and it is also musically very compelling.

BTW, there is also a DVD of the Boulez/WP 8th which I am told is not exactly the same as the DG recording because the Dg disc was edited together from several performances and this is "only" one of them. But I haven't compared them directly, so I am not sure exactly what the realtionship between those two version is. But the DVD is fun to watch and it appeared to me to sound a little better, more clearly defined than the somewhat overly reverberant DG disc (but then of course some may prefer that). But again, I have not compared them A-B, so that is just an impression.

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:53 pm

Micha wrote: I do enjoy a leaner, approach with brighter sonorities as well, if it is musically well done and not just a blarefest. Impressing and IMO very successful examples for this are the Bruckner 4 with LAP/Salonen or the recordings by the Cleveland O with Christop von D.
It's nice to see a good mention for Von Dohnanyi's Bruckner. His 9th is one of my favorites. I know of no other recording that so well captures the snarling intensity of the Scherzo and is so well captured as sound. This recording brings out the extraordinary clarity in Bruckner's orchestration and the soloistic nature of some of the scoring (eight horns divided into four pairs throughout the work). Dohnanyi's Bruckner has both intensity and singing lyricism, much like Van Bienum's. I'm grateful he recorded as much as he did.

John

Micha

Post by Micha » Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:26 pm

Same here (well, you already knew that). I collected all their Bruckner and also Mahler recordings. It's a pity they didn't record Bruckner 1 and 2, then it would have been a complete cycle, and they also didn't do Mahler 3,7, and 8 either. I would especially have liked Mahler 3 and 7 from them. Their Mahler recordings are quite special, in more than one sense. They are really hyperanalytical, especially 5 is amazing because CvD virtually x-rayed the score, and it sounds like very complex chamber music, and the playing of the orchestra is absolutely outstanding, too. They play each passage, each note with a high degree of refinement and feeling for its right place in the musical texture.
A highly unique and maybe not the "ideal" approach to Mahler, but very interesting and fascinating to listen to. They also did a lot of other good stuff, like the Brahms and Schumann symphonies, or the Bartók and Lutoslawski Concertos for Orchestra.
I heard them live in that combination once in Berlin. CvD conducted the prelude to Lohengrin and then seamlessly, without a break, Ligeti's Athmosphères! That was very cool and an intelligent idea. Then Schumann 1 in a marvelously open textured, "defattened" performance which once and for all clarified that Schumann's orchestration is not as bad as many say, on the contrary, it shows that it is quite original and effective, there are even elements of impressionism that Schumann found decades before the actual style. Then as main course, a wonderful performance of the complete Firebird which to this day remains one of the most precisely played, colorful, and detail attentive readings I have heard. A great concert, one of the ones I still remember like it was yesterday (in reality, it was 15 or so years ago...).

CharmNewton
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Post by CharmNewton » Wed Dec 06, 2006 11:15 pm

Micha wrote:Same here (well, you already knew that). I collected all their Bruckner and also Mahler recordings. It's a pity they didn't record Bruckner 1 and 2, then it would have been a complete cycle, and they also didn't do Mahler 3,7, and 8 either. I would especially have liked Mahler 3 and 7 from them. Their Mahler recordings are quite special, in more than one sense. They are really hyperanalytical, especially 5 is amazing because CvD virtually x-rayed the score, and it sounds like very complex chamber music, and the playing of the orchestra is absolutely outstanding, too. They play each passage, each note with a high degree of refinement and feeling for its right place in the musical texture.
A highly unique and maybe not the "ideal" approach to Mahler, but very interesting and fascinating to listen to. They also did a lot of other good stuff, like the Brahms and Schumann symphonies, or the Bartók and Lutoslawski Concertos for Orchestra.
I heard them live in that combination once in Berlin. CvD conducted the prelude to Lohengrin and then seamlessly, without a break, Ligeti's Athmosphères! That was very cool and an intelligent idea. Then Schumann 1 in a marvelously open textured, "defattened" performance which once and for all clarified that Schumann's orchestration is not as bad as many say, on the contrary, it shows that it is quite original and effective, there are even elements of impressionism that Schumann found decades before the actual style. Then as main course, a wonderful performance of the complete Firebird which to this day remains one of the most precisely played, colorful, and detail attentive readings I have heard. A great concert, one of the ones I still remember like it was yesterday (in reality, it was 15 or so years ago...).
Thanks for sharing some of these memories of von Dohnanyi. I never heard him conduct in person, just on radio braodcasts. I have seen him on video. His eyes are extremely penetrating. He looks as alert as his orchestra sounds.

I once listened to the Finale of Barbirolli's Mahler 5 after hearing Von Dohnanyi's recording. Big mistake. Barbirolli sounded so slow. The movement was interminable. I can't bring myself to employ Brendan's hammer treatment to a CD, but Barbirolli's recording could have beena candidate that evening. The playing of the Cleveland Orchestra on that Mahler 5 is thrilling and they end the work with panache. BRO has this recording for $4 U.S.

John

Micha

Post by Micha » Wed Dec 06, 2006 11:30 pm

I already have it, but maybe I will pick up a copy before it disappears, since it is so cheap. This can make a great gift for a Mahler collecting friend, for instance, since it is not so well known - undeservedly so. BRO also have the 9th with these forces.

Apart from the Cleveland O concert, I saw him quite often with the BP, and he has always been a conductor I particularly liked. He is often accused as being to "cool", but he is one of those conductors who prefer not to "whip up" excitement but work on the musical substance and then see what happens. And I heard quite a few concerts with him when "something happened", among them one of the best - and most exciting - Also sprach Zarathustra I ever heard live - save only Karajan -, and the best live Dvorak 9 which really took off.
He is a very meticuluos rehearser, as can be seen in this video.

I just picked up a copy of his recording of Das Rheingold. Excellent. Unfortunately, they recorded Die Walküre and then cancelled that Ring project...and copies of that Walküre are hard to find and extremely expensive.

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