Friday, February 1, 2013

Sunday Classics chronicles: Remembering Eugen Jochum (1) -- Haydn and Bruckner, part 1


Eugen Jochum conducts his longtime orchestra, the Bavarian Radio Symphony, in the first part of the opening Allegro moderato of one of his signature pieces, the Bruckner Seventh Symphony. (The conclusion of the movement is posted below.)

by Ken

During Sunday Classics's hiatus, while I ponder its future and concentrate on importing more of the Sunday Classics "legacy" into the new stand-alone "Sunday Classics with Ken" blog (at sundayclassicswithken.blogspot.com -- hey, on the long march back to 2008 we've already gotten back as far as June 2012!), I've stumbled across issues arising from the stroll through those posts, as well as issues arising from records I've acquired, first from a massive Berkshire Record Outlet order and, more recently, from a visit to my friend Richard that included helping him cull duplicates from his collection.

The BRO order already yielded a December preview-and-post devoted to "Remembering Rafael Kubelik, Josef Krips, and Rudolf Kempe," three conductors who are dear to my heart for their uneccentric deep-rooted musicianship. As it happens there was another conductor who fits well in this group -- and missed it by a single letter, being a "J" rather than a "K" -- and happens to have been intriguingly represented in both those piles of acquisitions. Like our "K" men, Eugen Jochum (1902-1987) has been well represented here in Sunday Classics, and thereupon hangs what I'm projecting to a four-part series this week and next, including both symphonic and operatic representations. (We once heard Bruno Walter talking in a 1958 radio interview about the great differences between symphonic and operatic conducting, and it happens that all four of our J-K conductors, like Maestro Walter himself, happen to have done top-quality work in both fields.)

HERE'S A GORGEOUS PERFORMANCE OF MUSIC BY
A COMPOSER JOCHUM HAD A SPECIAL AFFINITY FOR


From the September 2010 post "Finally we hear the Haydn slow movement we've been gearing up for, from Symphony No. 88" we hear this breathtaking Largo built around a "hymn-like theme" whose phrases are capped by what I described as a "halo."

HAYDN: Symphony No. 88 in G:
ii. Largo


Berlin Philharmonic, Eugen Jochum, cond. DG, recorded October 1961

I WAS CURIOUS TO SEE JUST WHAT WE'VE
HEARD JOCHUM DO HERE AT SUNDAY CLASSICS


While I still haven't extended the Sunday Classics index beyond its regrettable halting point in July 2010, I actually can search the audio clips I've made since I began making audio clips. I found, much as I expected, that we have heard a lot from him, in both concert and opera. On the concert front, we've heard him a fair amount in the two very different composers we've already heard, who were indeed both affinities of his: Haydn and Bruckner. On the operatic front, we've heard him in Mozart, Beethoven, Weber, and Wagner (including a goodly chunk of what may still be the most beautiful performance of Parsifal I've ever heard).

As it happens, I have "new" performances to fit into both categories -- some important Haydn for our "Haydn and Bruckner" group this week, and a Lohengrin performance that will fit into next week's "Overtures Plus" group.


JOCHUM AND BRUCKNER


Here's the conclusion of the first movement of the Bruckner Seventh as performed by Eugen Jochum and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, of which we heard the first half above. (The remaining movements can also be found on YouTube.)

Like that other eminent Brucknerian Karl Böhm, who was also still recording Bruckner symphonies in the mid-1970s, Jochum began recording Bruckner in the '30s, when the development of electrical recording technology to a point where it could reproduce something like the sound of a Brucknerian orchestra coincided with the availability of texts representing versions of the symphonies in the composer's own hand rather than that of well-meaning editors like Franz Schalk.

The soul of Bruckner resides in his great slow movements, and we've heard Jochum conduct those of the Second, Fourth, and Seventh Symphonies. We've also heard him conduct the Finales of the Second and Seventh. The Seventh is a piece he seems to have conducted everywhere he went, and left behind aural evidence. Of the great Adagio, possibly Bruckner's most heroically beautiful movement, with the great climax that Jochum built maybe better than anybody else I've ever heard, we've heard both the 1935 version (on six 78 sides, I would assume) and a 1974 broadcast performance also with the Vienna Philharmonic. (We also heard Böhm's 1943 recording of the Adagio, along with his 1976 recording, both also with the Vienna Philharmonic.)

[From "Bruckner 7 -- a symphony built on its opening pair of musical twin towers" (July 2012)]

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E:
ii. Adagio

Vienna Philharmonic, Eugen Jochum, cond. Telefunken, recorded May 8-9, 1935

Vienna Philharmonic, Eugen Jochum, cond. Live performance, June 9, 1974


IN SUDAY'S ARCHIVES POST, AND THEN NEXT WEEK

More Haydn and Bruckner from the Sunday Classics archives, including new-to-Sunday Classics excerpts from Haydn's The Creation. In next week's "Overtures Plus" posts I expect we'll hear excerpts from Wagner's Lohengrin and Parsifal, Mozart's Così fan tutte and Abduction from the Seraglio, Beethoven's Fidelio, and Weber's Der Freischütz.
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