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Thread: Bruckner Symphonies...What am I missing?

  1. #31
    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    Agreed on the Scherzos.

    While I love the scherzo of Beethoven's 3rd and 9th, Sibelius 1st and 5th, my favourite scherzo of all time is the 3rd mvmt of Bruckner's 4th. Hands down, no contest in my mind.

    Gives me an idea for a new thread...

  2. #32
    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giovannimusica View Post
    Dear Lisztfreak, I apologise if I stepped on your toes
    No problem .
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

  3. #33
    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurkikohtaus View Post
    While I love the scherzo of Beethoven's 3rd and 9th, Sibelius 1st and 5th, my favourite scherzo of all time is the 3rd mvmt of Bruckner's 4th. Hands down, no contest in my mind.
    I know this is ignorant... but where's the scherzo in Sibelius' 5th?
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

  4. #34
    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    Thanks for teeing that one up for me, Lisztfreak, I love any chance I can get to explain this type of thing.

    Originally, in 1914-15, Sibelius conceived the 5th in 4 separate movements and the premiere was actually given that way. After the premiere he withdrew the piece and produced 2 more versions. I don't think the second version was ever performed, and the 3rd version from 1918-19 is the one we know today.

    In the original version, which has actually been recorded by Osmo Vanska and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, the second movement is a self-contained scherzo. In the final version, the first and second mvmts of the original are melded together structurally and thematically. The sonata recap serves as a transition to the scherzo, and the scherzo proper begins with the dotted-rhythm trumpet solo. The whole scherzo then proceeds as a giant 4 or 5 minute accelerando. The final bars of the movement provide special excitement for my simple mind, and the last bar, as if ending on an upbeat, is a nice touch.

  5. #35
    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
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    Oh, I would like to hear that version!

    It's interesting how composers tend to be perfectionist with their works. I don't think it's bad or something, but with Bruckner, for example, one always has to point out which version of a symphony of his is one listening to - at least in serious musical debates. Seems the 'revisions' fashion was very popular not only with Bruckner, but with many other authors too (and with Liszt, after all ).

    It is also interesting how it's extremely hard to buy or to listen in a concert hall to some of the previous versions of a work - the only thing we hear is the final version, in almost every case.
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

  6. #36
    Senior Member Keemun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurkikohtaus View Post
    In the final version, the first and second mvmts of the original are melded together structurally and thematically. The sonata recap serves as a transition to the scherzo, and the scherzo proper begins with the dotted-rhythm trumpet solo. The whole scherzo then proceeds as a giant 4 or 5 minute accelerando. The final bars of the movement provide special excitement for my simple mind, and the last bar, as if ending on an upbeat, is a nice touch.
    Interesting. Does this explain why the version of Sibelius' 5th that I have by Bernstein/NYPO (found here) actually has the first movement separated into two tracks? The first track (Tempo molto moderato - Largamente) is 8:22 long and the second track (Allegro moderato - Presto) is 4:52 long. The other versions I have of the 5th only have three tracks for the three movements.

    Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
    - Ludwig van Beethoven

  7. #37
    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    Yes, they probably did that to allow listeners to jump to the transition.

    The clip available for listening on the link you gave (click HERE for a direct link to the clip) doesn't actually quite make it to the scherzo itself, but it does show how Sibelius melds the 2 sections together. The thematic material you hear in the woodwinds is the 1st theme of the sonata, but here it is set in a "scherzo-like" rhytmic frame.

    Incidentally, for a discussion about these Bernstein/Sibelius recordings, click HERE.

    Getting back to Bruckner, I find it interesting that Bruckner never attempted to link movements in the way that Beethoven and Schumann did before him, Bruckner's attempt at unity across movements comes from a recycling of motivic material, much like Tchaikovsky. Of course, Brahms didn't link movements either, but with Brahms we have much more than mere thematic recycling, we have a sense that the motives he re-uses are going somewhere each time he restates them.

  8. #38
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    You're definitely missing something. Bruckner's symphonies are all pretty good, though it takes a special touch to make numbers 6 and 7 come off. Most people would disagree about the 7th, which is the most popular. I like it the least, but oh well.

    Best thing I can recommend, if you feel like you're missing something, is sit down with a handful of Bruckner symphonies and just listen over and over again. Won't kill you, I'm sure, and (since Bruckner's vastly entertaining--pun intended) you might end up with a new fave.

    Since they are longish (I guess--they all seem way too short to me), you might want to start with the earlier, shorter ones. Number 1 or number 0. (I don't think the earliest study symphony, as he put it, almost always called 00, is a good place to start. But 1 and 0 and 2 (which is a bit longer) should get you started just fine.)

    I started with 4, myself. Instantly fell in love with it.

    (There is another guy who almost always gets mentioned along with Bruckner, I've never understood why. In fact, he's been mentioned in this thread already. The only thing they have in common is length. And big orchestras. Aesthetically they're quite different. That other guy is quite fun, too, though. His 6th will pin you against the wall, I'm sure. Good times!)

  9. #39
    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    I will spill the beans and say that I am finally performing my first Bruckner Symphony tomorrow, Friday April 13th. As a listener, I have always liked Bruckner, #4, #5 and #9 especially.

    For my first performance, I chose #4 given its "reasonable" orchestration and length, compared to the rest of them. The orchestra and our audience are new to Bruckner, as we play late-classic / early-romantic + Dvorak most of the time... The orchestra has grown to appreciate Bruckner over the course of this week, and several members have asked me whether there are any other symphonies that would be within our orchestra's range and scope.

    A little point for all you performers out there, I have decided not to run the entire piece on the Friday morning dress rehearsal. I will give it about 20 minutes, playing the beginnings of movements, transitions and other tricky spots, but that is all. The brass cannot play the symphony at full power 2x in one day, and honestly, I cannot concentrate enough to go through it 2x in one day either. I planned this from the beginning of the week and paced the rehearsals so that this morning (Thursday) we did a complete run through... and THAT is where you feel the majesty and grand, grand, grand breadth and pace that Bruckner had such a command over. I feel that Bruckner mastered length and pace in a way that the oh-so-sprawling Mahler never achieved.

  10. #40
    Senior Member Keemun's Avatar
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    Kurkikohtaus, Bruckner's 4th was played at the first real orchestra concert I ever attended (Chicago Symphony Orchestra, early 1990s). I remember thinking that it was a really long symphony, but I liked the scherzo.


    Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
    - Ludwig van Beethoven

  11. #41
    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    Wow... Chicago / Bruckner... that must have been awesome. In the early 90's it still may have been Solti conducting? Am I right?

  12. #42
    Senior Member Keemun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurkikohtaus View Post
    Wow... Chicago / Bruckner... that must have been awesome. In the early 90's it still may have been Solti conducting? Am I right?
    From what I can find online, Solti's last year at the CSO was 1991. I would have been there in late 1992 or early 1993, so it was likely Barenboim.

    And yes, it was awesome.

    Music is the mediator between the spiritual and the sensual life.
    - Ludwig van Beethoven

  13. #43
    Senior Member ChamberNut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by some guy View Post
    (There is another guy who almost always gets mentioned along with Bruckner, I've never understood why. In fact, he's been mentioned in this thread already. The only thing they have in common is length. And big orchestras. Aesthetically they're quite different. That other guy is quite fun, too, though. His 6th will pin you against the wall, I'm sure. Good times!)
    And really, they don't even have that in common. Bruckner's 9 symphonies average approx 62 minutes, while "this other guy's" 9 symphonies average close to 79 minutes per.

    That's like an extra movement in each symphony! (Or 1/2 a mvt. for that other guy )

  14. #44
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    Touche, ChamberNut!

  15. #45
    Senior Member Kurkikohtaus's Avatar
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    My Bruckner performance is over, it went well, some senior citizens even got up out of their seats at the end, and not just for the purpose of making a hasty escape.

    There is one thing I would like to add to this whole Bruckner/Religion thing that dawned on me during the performance...

    Through his music, Bruckner is not writing simply about faith, Bruckner is not just showing his faith... Bruckner's work is a musical personification of Faith Itself.

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