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Thread: Bruckner Symphony Cycles

  1. #91
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    I keep repeating myself, but I very much like this incomplete Bruckner set You also hear the BPO always has a great Bruckner up its sleeves. It just depends on the conductor. Funny detail: Gunter Wand was not welcome during HvK's era. Abbado invited him back and Rattle visited Wand's rehearsals to study (not very effective, as Rattle never became a Bruckner-conductor).

    Attachment 120385
    It's not that simple, tbh and that sounds like Karajan blocked Wand from working with the BPO, when that wasnt the case. Wand's career was complicated and his recording career was marred by one particular terrible decision. In the mid 50s, Walter Legge asked him to join a group of conductors at EMI and make a few recordings with a view to joining the roster of big EMI conductors. However he decided against that, supposedly to record 'extensively' with the French subscription music club, Club Francaise du Disque. Wand did record for Club Francais but not 'extensively' (some of his recordings were not used or lay dormant for years and have now been lost) and, even worse, was tied to a 25 year contract that put him off limits for recording for anyone else until the early 80s. Even worse, Club Francais had almost wound up their recording commitments to concentrate on their more lucrative book service by the end of the 60s. Wand wanted to get out of the contract but he was told he'd have to buy the rest of his contract off. In hindsight he should have as no big orchestra would look at him to take over knowing that he couldnt record in an era when major labels were releasing new classical music. That one decision meant he missed the big boom of the 70s in music and by the time he was out of contract he was too old for the big jobs but had a good reputation and was much admired as a guest conductor. Such a shame. It basically crippled his career at what should have been the peak of it. Add to this his insistence on extensive rehearsals (he was a perfectionist, I believe) which really annoyed promoters (and some of the orchestras). A great conductor certainly but a poor businessman.
    Last edited by Merl; Jul-18-2019 at 12:13.

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  3. #92
    Senior Member padraic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post

    I have not heard much of Jochum's Bruckner. If anyone can point me to a really good recording from each set to listen for reference, that would be helpful.

    What are some that I'm missing? I know Chailly and Haitink have both recorded cycles with the Royal Concertgebouw. Celibidache is another very famous Bruckner guy, but I don't know if I can stomach those extremely slow tempi at this early stage in my Bruckner appreciation.

    Maybe looking to get a full cycle is a wrong-headed approach? Many people told me similarly about Mahler when I was in the market for a Mahler cycle, but I am seriously satisfied with the set that I ended up getting.

    Thanks in advance
    File under just another random guy's opinion:

    1. I never could understand the love for Wand.
    2. Don't love Jochum for symphonies but he is the reference for sacred music - Masses + Te Deum. Can't miss.
    3. If I had to pick a starter set, it would be Karajan. His Bruckner cycle with Berlin on DG was just re-mastered (at least, sym. 4-9 were). Don't overpay, though - Amazon is selling it for $72, which is absurd. Presto classical is selling hi-res downloads for a much more reasonable price. Sound improvement is considerable, but they can't fix the fact that it was recorded in the Phiharmonie, and the acoustics suffer.
    4. Celibidache - you will either love or hate his approach. I love it for three symphonies in particular - the 4th, the 6th, and the 8th. I feel like there's consensus that he has one of, it not the best, 6th symphonies. I understand your trepidation as being new to Bruckner - but you simply must check him out at some point so you can form your own opinion. You may be richly rewarded, as I was.
    5. Even if you get a cycle, there is one absolutely MUST BUY: the 9th by Giulini/Vienna. In my opinion this is the gold standard for this work. I have not ever heard anything that surpasses it.
    6. I do think Karajan is supreme in the 7th, but I would go with his EMI recording with Berlin. His EMI 4th is also outstanding.

    And finally the bottom line: I don't care whose interpretation you prefer, I'm just thrilled that you are starting on this amazing voyage and I really hope you will come to love and revere this music as much as I.

    Happy listening!

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  5. #93
    Senior Member padraic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkAngel View Post
    ^^^^ Sorry very hard to find info, we need to see back cover info.......

    You are right we should not "assume" that CDs are remastered
    Possible you all have discovered the answer by now, but just in case...

    Symphonies 1-3 of this set were digitally recorded in the 1980s. They cannot be remastered, they are merely upsampled. You'll get no added sonic improvement here.

    Symphonies 4-9 were recorded in analog in the 1970s, so they were remastered, and while there is considerable sonic improvement (I'm listening to the 5th right now and it sounds crystal clear), the problems with recording in the Philharmonie are still evident, as there's really nothing a remastering can do about that.

    This is still a good starter set, but unless you're a massive HvK fanboy/girl, you can probably skip it. Or go to Presto Classical and pick out your favorites for download.
    Last edited by padraic; Jul-18-2019 at 21:57.

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  7. #94
    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    I own the Jochum EMI, the Wand RCA the Celi and the Chailly.

    The one I listen to most is the Chailly because:
    The performances are very good, each symphony is on their own disc (no interruptions), the sound is just amazing (Decca DDD at its best. )
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

  8. #95
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    I think I've narrowed it down to Jochum/Dresden on Warner/EMI, and Wand/Kölner RSO on RCA/Sony... also kind of considering Klemperer/Philharmonia on Warner, which is only 4-9. But I think Wand is going to be the one... he just has a way with understanding and elucidating "the line" of the music, I think, which I hear in Jochum too, but he really does tend to play fast and loose with the tempi at times which is a little irritating, I think. Wand is a little more restrained, which I think might be a good thing in this huge music. The main thing that the Jochum has going for it is the Staatskapelle Dresden, an excellent band.

    I've decided against Karajan as I do like the thick Berlin PO string sound, but don't know if I want 9 hours worth of it in this new (to me) repertoire. Chailly and Haitink I still need to give a fair shot... if anyone wants to share a Youtube link in attempt to sway me, they can be my guest

  9. #96
    Senior Member CnC Bartok's Avatar
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    ^^^Go for Jochum! And if you get the EMI Icon box, you get his supreme Beethoven and Brahms too. And no, I kid you not! They ARE supreme!

    51UUlgP3qqL.jpg
    Last edited by CnC Bartok; Jul-18-2019 at 22:50.

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  11. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    Are the cds remastered ? or just the blu ray?
    In every other instance of CD+Bluray from DG the CDs have not been remastered, but whatever was produced for previous releases. However in this case there is an added ambiguity since some of the Bruckner was remastered for the Karajan 70 box, and it is not clear if they have included from the previous Karajan/Bruckner box (masters dating to the 80s) or whether the Karajan 70 masters were used. I have the Karajan 70 box and the newly remastered 8th doesn't really sound any better.

  12. #98
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    ^^^Go for Jochum! And if you get the EMI Icon box, you get his supreme Beethoven and Brahms too. And no, I kid you not! They ARE supreme!

    51UUlgP3qqL.jpg
    Hmm... that box looks great. I think you just made my decision for Wand... ... because I'm not going to shell out 45 bucks (great deal though that is) on a conductor that I'm not very familiar with just yet, and I also don't want to get just the Bruckner cycle now that I know it's available as a much better package deal.

    Anyway, I just picked up Jochum's recordings of the Masses with the Bavarian Radio Symphony for a buck, on the strength of Padraic's recommendation.

  13. #99
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CnC Bartok View Post
    ^^^Go for Jochum! And if you get the EMI Icon box, you get his supreme Beethoven and Brahms too. And no, I kid you not! They ARE supreme!

    51UUlgP3qqL.jpg
    I agree. Go for this set....its great value. You get a superb Brahms cycle (its a top tier one), a good solid Beethoven set and plenty more to go with your Bruckner.

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  15. #100
    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Merl View Post
    It's not that simple, tbh and that sounds like Karajan blocked Wand from working with the BPO, when that wasnt the case. Wand's career was complicated and his recording career was marred by one particular terrible decision. In the mid 50s, Walter Legge asked him to join a group of conductors at EMI and make a few recordings with a view to joining the roster of big EMI conductors. However he decided against that, supposedly to record 'extensively' with the French subscription music club, Club Francaise du Disque. Wand did record for Club Francais but not 'extensively' (some of his recordings were not used or lay dormant for years and have now been lost) and, even worse, was tied to a 25 year contract that put him off limits for recording for anyone else until the early 80s. Even worse, Club Francais had almost wound up their recording commitments to concentrate on their more lucrative book service by the end of the 60s. Wand wanted to get out of the contract but he was told he'd have to buy the rest of his contract off. In hindsight he should have as no big orchestra would look at him to take over knowing that he couldnt record in an era when major labels were releasing new classical music. That one decision meant he missed the big boom of the 70s in music and by the time he was out of contract he was too old for the big jobs but had a good reputation and was much admired as a guest conductor. Such a shame. It basically crippled his career at what should have been the peak of it. Add to this his insistence on extensive rehearsals (he was a perfectionist, I believe) which really annoyed promoters (and some of the orchestras). A great conductor certainly but a poor businessman.
    Interesting facts, I didn't know this. But this terrible contract released Wand back on the recording market around 1980, when the digital era just started off and every major label started to record everything all over again. Wand indeed preferred a radio orchestra as it allowed him to more rehearsals. This likely made the unknown Wand unattractive for the major labels who were producing on a tight schedule.
    In this period Karajan however was recording his BPO Bruckner cycle (late seventies to early eighties). And it seems also HvK was rehearsing a lot. But when it comes down to business, HvK was even a better businessman than he was a conductor. It wasn't until HvK died (1989) that Wand (1993) and Celibidache (1992) came back to the BPO to conduct Bruckner. I can't believe this was just a coincidence.

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  17. #101
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Hello flamenco. Why did you all have to talk for the whole day about this while I was moving out!

    After 3 years extensively listening to Bruckner, being my favourite composer, I've stayed away from most of the cycles you have proposed, especially never, never giving any love to Günter Wand, whose all performaces sound as simplistic that they seem a parody of Skrowaczewski's lightweight but mostly-brilliant cycle. I never got either in the Dutch world of Bruckner as Haitink and Chailly produce much better performances today than 40 or 20 years ago.

    With time, I've learnt to love the qualities of the Jochum Dresden cycle even if I still believe EMI/Jochum made fatal engineering/playing decisions. Since its all AAD, it should be soon remastered for the Bruckner 200 anniversary. I consider it posibly the best conducting found in a studio cycle. Also, that growing appreciation for the second Jochum has also implied rejecting the second Bruckner cycle I ever got: the DG one from the 60s. Apart from a sublime No.1, No.4 and No.9, it barely tells anything to me since the sound quality is quite dated.

    Although Karajan BPO would be my favourite cycle for its style, I've learnt to live without it. Also, now I have so many Bruckner recordings I have no plans to buy the long awaited Remastered cycle. The Vienna No.8 is a sublime piece of conducting that complements the studio recording, but I never found anything extraordinary in the Vienna No.7.

    Sergiu Celibidache is, not only in Bruckner, a fascinating figure to dive in. I would love to get on CD his EMI cycle (in excellent sound from the massive Munich hall) but he's quite overwhelming in the late symphonies. I prefer to go to one of my latest purchases: the expansive No.7 played in Suntory Hall. Pretty much better than his EMI recording. My experience with Bruckner has showed me that Celi's vision of the ouvre is really one-sided and a bit narrow-minded. You would miss many nuances of Bruckner's music if you stuck to it.



    The Three Barenboim cycles are quite misterious. I went from a hate to a love relationship with the Chicago cycle once I listened to it for an University coursework and especially since I got the CD set, which has a sheer sound you would never find streaming. The Berliner Philharmoniker cycle is a fantastic beginner cycle with arguably two favourite recordings of mine for symphonies No.5 and No.9, but the rest are quite ok. I reccomend them. And the Staatskapelle Berlin cycle is so badly recorded I stopped considering it. I don't know what happened in the first year of digital recording, but transfers from Video recordings to Audio is really disastrous here, shame on Accentus.

    2024 will be see the 200 Anniversary of Bruckner's birth and the publication of the fourt first "Cathedral" cycles in discography. The projects are ongoing. Gerd Schaller has gone through a long Journey with the Philharmonia Festiva and has developed a sharp and very useful performance style to fit into the cavernous Ebrach Abbey. He is currently recording all versions and editions of all his works, inside and outside Ebrach Music Festival. His performances so far satisfy me much more in late than early symphonies, but he's consistent and really well-recorded by BR. Remy Ballot AKA Celibidache's allumni, is currently working in a yearly project for recording all Bruckner symphonies inside the Composer's cathedral, St. Florian. I'm not precisely a fan, but No.7 is one of his best yet. In the same place, Valery Gergiev has been quickly recording Bruckner symphonies under the Munchner Philharmoniker and you better not get me started on his pointless insistence on being a top Germanic conductor. And Finally, Christian Thielemann or my most hyped German conductor has started recording and filming a Cathedral cycle with the Wiener Philharmoniker in a time when the orchestra is has no longer the glorious sound of the past in Decca and DG. Lets see. They are recording the cycle one European Cathedral per symphony. This year: No.2 and No.3.

    There are several cycles that count with the first versions of the symphonies, which are a great curiousity. Inbal, Tintner, mentioned Schaller, and my personal favourite: Simone Young. I own her cycle but she doesn't have many plays since I no longer care for which version the symphony has or if it is authentic, but the performance quality.

    I'm not going to ask you to dive in the world of mono Bruckner recordings but slowly, the Knappertsbusch recordings plus a Furtwangler No.8 has became my reference for Bruckner conducting over all of the others. The experience has been overwordly.





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  19. #102
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    Interesting facts, I didn't know this. But this terrible contract released Wand back on the recording market around 1980, when the digital era just started off and every major label started to record everything all over again. Wand indeed preferred a radio orchestra as it allowed him to more rehearsals. This likely made the unknown Wand unattractive for the major labels who were producing on a tight schedule.
    In this period Karajan however was recording his BPO Bruckner cycle (late seventies to early eighties). And it seems also HvK was rehearsing a lot. But when it comes down to business, HvK was even a better businessman than he was a conductor. It wasn't until HvK died (1989) that Wand (1993) and Celibidache (1992) came back to the BPO to conduct Bruckner. I can't believe this was just a coincidence.
    Many (in fact nearly all) of the guest conductors with the BPO during the 80s also recorded with them (Maazel, Levine, Abbado, Mehta, Ozawa, Kubelik, etc). The fact that Wand and Celi were openly against recording probably had more to do with them not being invited back (remember this was a time of mass releases from DG). From what is written about guest conductors in Berlin it seems that HvK was mostly complimentary towards his fellow podiumsters. I doubt he blocked Wand from coming back (Celi is different as he had history with the BPO and constantly bad-mouthed other conductors). Remember too that Celi and Wand were much older conductors. If Karajan was in charge of sorting guest conductors hed have wanted newer, younger talent. The only person i can think of Karajan 'banning' from working was Harnoncourt, whom he hated. Saltzburg did eventually admit to barring Harnoncourt from playing citing Karajan as saying "not in my lifetime".

  20. #103
    Senior Member Granate's Avatar
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    Now to yout point, flamencosketches. I don't know if you have purchased any cycle yet, but digging in Bruckner in my first year was really different than it is now. Back then I was so into the bloomy Berliner Philharmoniker style that I purchased both the Young and first Jochum cycle and considered almost everyone else mistaken. I changed my mind several times and learnt lots of things. If you enjoy the Vienna Böhm for the No.4, try to find out about the WPO Bruckner recordings, even if they are in mono.For a full cycle, the Staatskapelle Dresden string sound is the one that resembles the most to the WPO, so I would go for it and try to enjoy or ignore the excessive Brass sound.

    For spare WPO recordings, try to sample:

    Giulini No.2 (Wiener Symphoniker)
    Stein No.6
    Böhm No.3 (Decca) No.7 and No.8 for DG
    Karajan No.7 and No.8
    Giulini No.9 (unmissable), plus No.7 and No.8 if you want to try (DG)
    Knappertsbusch No.7 (Orfeo) 1949
    Furtwängler No.8 1944






  21. #104
    Senior Member DarkAngel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by padraic View Post
    3. If I had to pick a starter set, it would be Karajan. His Bruckner cycle with Berlin on DG was just re-mastered (at least, sym. 4-9 were). Don't overpay, though - Amazon is selling it for $72, which is absurd. Presto classical is selling hi-res downloads for a much more reasonable price. Sound improvement is considerable, but they can't fix the fact that it was recorded in the Phiharmonie, and the acoustics suffer.
    .
    And finally the bottom line: I don't care whose interpretation you prefer, I'm just thrilled that you are starting on this amazing voyage and I really hope you will come to love and revere this music as much as I.
    Love HVK for Bruckner, the Presto UK 24/192 FLAC downloads of symphonies 4-9 is only $18.50.....amazing bargain! (so cheap I'm thinking it must be a mistake, get them now!)





    The newest CD boxset with blu-ray disc features same CDs as older set (not remastered ) but the blu ray disc is new 24/96 remastered tracks, much cheaper at Presto vs Amazon USA......

    Last edited by DarkAngel; Jul-19-2019 at 18:33.

  22. #105
    Senior Member Merl's Avatar
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    Another reason for Celi probably not being invited back for so many years is that many of the members of the BPO from the late 50s disliked him. Celi was the front-runner to take the BPO post permanently when Furtwangler died but, a few days before the appointment was announced, he had a blazing row with the orchestra in rehearsal and insulted many influential members, resulting in half of the orchestra walking out on him. The post went instead to Karajan. Celi once said of HvK, "Karajan? Terrible. Either he is a great businessman, or he is deaf".

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