Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: Last scherzo with Anton

The prince of symphonic scherzos? Leonard Bernstein conducts the Scherzo of the Beethoven Ninth Symphony, with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra augmented by players from numerous other international orchestra, in this Christmas Day 1989 performance of the symphony in celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

by Ken

Last week we got (eventually) to the first movement of the Bruckner Ninth Symphony -- a massive report, I'm arguing, that all is far from well in our world. Next week we will get to the last movement that Bruckner composed, a crowning Adagio that, I will argue, reports that all is way far from well in our world.

And in between we have Bruckner's last scherzo.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics: Bruckner 9 -- what "cathedrals of sound"? With a detour through Wagner's "Ring" cycle

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9 in D minor:
i. Feierlich, misterioso (Solemn, mysterious) -- opening

[A] Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Carlo Maria Giulini, cond. EMI, recorded Dec. 1-2, 1976

[B] Vienna Philharmonic, Carlo Maria Giulini, cond. DG, recorded live, June 1988

by Ken

Yes, these are the "A" and "B" performances of the opening of the Bruckner Ninth Symphony we heard in last night's preview ("We said it wasn't over till we heard Bruckner 9"), which I described as "very different (but significantly related)." Longtime readers will probably have guessed, because I've used this trick before, that the significant relationship between the performances is that they're by the same conductor, as noted in the listings above.

I want to get to the reason why I excerpted this pair of performances, but first, let me throw out a question for your consideration as we listen through the three movements of the Ninth Symphony that Bruckner actually composed. (Eventually I suppose we'll have to talk about the movement he never did compose, a finale, but for now we will be considering these three movements the "complete" symphony -- and they form a quite satisfying whole to me.) The question is:

Is this happy music?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ghost of Sunday Classics preview: We said it wasn't over till we heard Bruckner 9

by Ken

It's going to be pretty much a quick in and out tonight -- an actual, you know, preview. Sunday, as you may have guessed, we finally tackle the Bruckner Ninth Symphony. I still haven't decided whether we're going to do the whole thing in one fell swoop, which is going to make for an extremely large and unwieldy post, because there are any number of issues that come up, or we're going to work our way through the piece in pieces. Either way, here's a preview of what we're going to hear.


BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9 in D minor

excerpt from i. Feierlich, misterioso (Solemn, mysterious)

excerpt from ii. Scherzo: Bewegt, lebhaft (Animated, lively)

excerpt from iii. Adagio: Langsam, feierlich (Slow, solemn)

Bavarian State Orchestra, Wolfgang Sawallisch, cond. Orfeo, recorded Dec. 23, 1984