2008 Bruckner Marathon

The 2008 Bruckner Marathon was held on 30 Auguest 2008 in Carlsbad, California (San Diego County) to celebrate Bruckner's 184th birthday. The recordings were selected by Ramón Khalona and Dave Griegel with the goal of presenting an interesting variety of styles from some of the greatest Bruckner conductors.

Program Notes

Overture in G minor
Symphony No. 0

Riccardo Chailly
Berlin Radio Symphony
Private video recording

The Italian conductor Riccardo Chailly recorded a complete cycle for Decca with the Berlin Radio Symphony and the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, of which he was music director for many years. This private video recording is contemporaneous with his studio recording of both works for Decca and amply demonstrates the commitment that Chailly had earlier in his career to Bruckner's works.

Symphony No. 1

Roberto Paternostro
Württemberg Philharmonic
10 July 2004
Antes CD BM 31.9233

Roberto Paternostro has recorded a complete live Bruckner cycle with the Württemberg Philharmonic, which has been released on the ANTES label. (This cycle includes the Nullte symphony and the Te Deum, but not the early F-minor symphony.) This cycle was recorded from concerts at the Basilika Weingarten between 1997 and 2005 during the orchestra's summer season. This venue provides a reverberant environment, which Paternostro deftly negotiates, and in the First symphony it is not as problematic as during the later symphonies with their larger sonorities and dynamic range.

Symphony No. 2

Kurt Eichhorn
Bruckner Orchester Linz
25-28 March 1991
Abruckner.com BSVD-0103

The 1876 version of Bruckner's Second Symphony was performed at the symphony's second performance on 20 February 1876, with the composer conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. It has not been performed since that time, but here we have a nearly exact rendering of the 1876 version, prepared by John Berky and William Carragan from Kurt Eichhorn's Camerata recordings. This composite recording is available from abruckner.com.

There is a growing consensus that the finest form of this symphony is Bruckner's first concept from 1872. The final version from 1877, first published in 1892, is so truncated that Haas felt compelled to retain elements of the 1872 version in his edition. In between are the versions from 1873 and 1876, used for the first and second performances. The 1873 version, recorded by Eichhorn and played at our marathon in 2001 has interesting features, but inconsistent and unnatural endings to the outer movements.

In 1876 Bruckner had everything right. The 1876 version, like 1873, has a solo violin in the slow movement and the Neuer Satz in the finale, and each of these movements retains an essential passage cut in 1877. The outer movements end consistently and naturally, each movement cutting the first "crescendo" from 1872 and retaining only the second. We are grateful to John Berky and William Carragan for making this recording available, and we hope for an official recording in the near future.

Symphony No. 3

Jonathan Nott
Bamberg Symphony
2-4 July 2003
Tudor 7133

Jonathan Nott (born in England in 1963) has enjoyed a European career with appointments in Frankfurt, Wiesbaden and Lucerne. He has also conducted many of the best-known European orchestras as a guest and since 2000 he has worked as music director in Bamberg, where he succeeded Horst Stein (recently deceased). Nott opts for the earliest version of the much-revised Third symphony and gives us a dynamic and exciting performance that stands opposite to Tintner's recording of the same version, but is certainly as enjoyable.

Symphony No. 4

Simone Young
Hamburg Philharmonic
1-3 December 2007
Oehms Classics 629

The Australian conductor Simone Young has a strong affinity for Bruckner. When conducting the Berlin Philharmonic on 7 December 2005 -- the first woman to conduct the BPO since 1978 -- she included the Bruckner Third in her program. She has also been an early adopter of Carragan's edition of the 1872 Bruckner Second, and it is with this symphony that she began her Bruckner cycle with the Hamburg Philharmonic (of which she is Music Director) on the Oehms Classics label. The Second was followed by an excellent 1873 Third, and very recently by the so-called 1874 Fourth that we present here. Under Young's leadership, the Hamburg Philharmonic delivers a solid reading of the score, with massive brass and timpani.

A note on the text: As Ben Korstvedt discussed at last year's Bruckner Journal Conference in Birmingham, Nowak's edition of the 1874 version actually includes revisions Bruckner made to the autograph score of the symphony as late as 1876. A copy score of the original 1874 version was made, but it is partly lost. Also, another copy score from 1876 contains yet another variation on the early form of this symphony. So there are three early versions, but only one is published.

Symphony No. 5

Paavo Järvi
European Youth Orchestra
14 August 2004
Estonian Record Productions DVD ERP 1107

Paavo Järvi's first recorded excursion in the Bruckner canon is a special occasion. He conducts the European Youth Orchestra (EYO), now a 30-year old institution first conducted by Claudio Abbado in 1978 and by many famous conductors since then. For this concert, Järvi has gone back to his native Estonia where he leads the EYO in an inspired but disciplined performance that shows this group of young musicians has achieved a very high artistic level. An interesting feature of this orchestra is that it is composed of a relatively large number of young and talented female musicians. We can only surmise that, after hearing the way they play his music, Old Anton would have been very pleased and would perhaps have proposed to at least one of them!

Adagio from String Quintet
Symphony No. 6

Ira Levin
Symphony Orchestra of Norrlands Opera
12-17 May 2008
Lindoro AA-0105

Ira Levin is a native of Chicago, and he studied piano at Northwestern University and Indiana University before heading to the Curtis Institute of Music, where in addition to piano he began to study conducting. With a large resume of concerts and posts in the US and Europe, Levin now resides in Brazil, where he is chief conductor and artistic director of the Orchestra of the National Theater of Brazil.

In our first marathon, we played F. Charles Adler's Bruckner Sixth, which was at that time the only available recording of the symphony in its 1899 edition. It is now soon to be joined by the recording by Ira Levin and the Norrlands Opera Symphony Orchestra made in May 2008. Thanks to the kind permission of the conductor, we are able to present a sneak preview of this magnificent new recording at this year's marathon.

Compared to the more familiar Haas or Nowak editions of the Sixth, the 1899 edition has some minor alterations, with the most obvious of these being the repeat of the second part of the Trio, changes in dynamic markings, and a few changes and additions in the orchestration. Levin and orchestra give the symphony a very exciting performance, with some especially fine playing from the horn section. We also include the coupling to the recording in chronological order: the Adagio from the String Quintet arranged for string orchestra. We look forward to hearing more Bruckner from Ira Levin.

Symphony No. 7

Lovro von Matacic
Slovenian Philharmonic
19-22 June 1984
Denon COCQ-84428

Lovro von Matacic is the only conductor known to have recorded all three available editions of the Bruckner Seventh. A 1967 recording with the Czech Philharmonic, issued on Supraphon, used the 1885 Gutmann edition, while a performance 2 years later with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, issued on the Altus label, used the Nowak edition. For our marathon, we have selected the conductor's final recording, made in 1984 with the Slovenian Philharmonic, which used the Haas edition. This recording had been something of a rarity, but it has recently been reissued in Japan. Matacic chooses slow, flowing tempi throughout the symphony, and the Slovenian brass provide a nice Eastern European sound.

Symphony No. 8

Yevgeny Mravinsky
Leningrad Philharmonic
June 1959
Melodiya 10 00803

There are three known Bruckner recordings by Mravinsky, a name that doesn't usually come to mind when the great Bruckner conductors are mentioned. He recorded symphonies Seven, Eight, and Nine with his orchestra, the Leningrad Philharmonic. (The Seventh has been released on EMI, while the Eighth and Ninth have been released both on Melodiya and on BMG/Melodiya as part of the Mravinsky edition.) Of these we have chosen what we think is his strongest performance, dating from 1959. Mravinsky chooses the Haas edition and gives an unusual performance that is unsentimental, precise and very exciting. There will be those who will argue that this Russian brass sonority may not be quite right for Bruckner, but even they would agree that this performance is unusually exciting and deserves to be better known.

Symphony No. 9

Marcus Bosch
Aachen Symphony Orchestra
28 May 2007
Coviello Classics 30711

This year we continue exploring Marcus Bosch's Bruckner cycle with the Aachen Symphony. His Ninth, derived from a concert at the St. Nikolaus church in Aachen (also a reverberant venue) from last year, includes a completion of the Finale. Bosch weights the movements very differently from other conductors who perform the symphony as a three-movement work. The main difference is that the Adagio is not a farewell to life, but rather follows the model of the slow movement in Beethoven's Ninth, serving as a bridge between a savage Scherzo and the Finale that is to come. Bosch performs the latest (or nearly the latest) Samale/Cohrs completion of the Finale, which differs from the earlier Samale, Mazzuca, Phillips, and Cohrs Finale recorded by Eichhorn and Wildner in a number of significant ways, most notably in the material leading up to the coda. The Aachen Symphony under Bosch has evolved into a fine orchestra and we look forward to the remaining installments in their interesting Bruckner cycle.