As I’ve mentioned before, I’m conflicted when it comes to Anton Bruckner’s music. A cappella motets? Absolutely love ’em. Choral works with an orchestra? Sure. But the symphonies? Eh, well . . . I’ve tried, but now I usually make a point of avoiding them whenever possible.
We have recordings of a few of the symphonies in our collection:
- 4th (Salonen/Los Angeles Philharmonic)
- 5th (Haitink/Vienna Philharmonic)
- 7th (Walter/Columbia Symphony)
- 8th (one by Karajan/Vienna, another by Haitink/Concergebouw)
In addition, I’ve seen the 4th and 7th performed live. With all that previous exposure, I can appreciate his works on an intellectual basis for its technical and sonic machinations — but they don’t grab me, say, like Stravinsky, Mahler, or Lutoslawski does (or to a slightly lesser extent, Shostakovich or Sibelius).
- I can also appreciate the Ligeti Requiem for both intellectual and technical reasons, and I really have no desire to pay good money to ever see or hear that performed again. In comparison, I’ve usually found Bruckner symphonies to be more tolerable, but less interesting.
In any case, I was enjoying some of the Bruckner choral works over the holidays, and I figured that I needed to reconsider his symphonic ouvre. Therefore, as a New Year’s resolution, I’ve decided to make an effort to “get into” Bruckner.
I’m gonna start with the 9th symphony, partly because I want to try something I don’t know at all, and also in anticipation of seeing it performed live later this year with Simon Rattle conducting. Haven’t yet decided which recording to go with, so . . .
If anyone wants to recommend a specific (perhaps “better” or more “definitive”) recording of the piece, please feel free to offer it up. I’d be eternally grateful.