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Thread: Bruckner Symphony Cycles

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    Senior Member SalieriIsInnocent's Avatar
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    Default Bruckner Symphony Cycles

    I've heard different performances on some of his works on Spotify, and I'd really like to hear more. I'm looking for a set with great sound, nothing plagued with pops and cracks or 80's digital sound.

    I've seen Karajan's set, I'm just never 100% sure with HVK. He was an amazing conductor, but he did a lot of things his own way, and not necessarily the composers way.

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    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    My favorites will always be Eugen Jochum's Dresden Cycle on EMI (Now Warner).

    ClassicsToday gave the Jochum/Dresden set a 10 for Performance and 8 for Sound saying "You just can’t go wrong here. Through it all, the Staatskapelle Dresden plays with its customary warmth and beauty of tone, but also with a transparency of texture that never weighs the music down unnecessarily. The sonics are good, sometimes perhaps a touch bright, but never unpleasantly so."

    Jochum never disappoints and he is still tops on a few of the symphonies in my book. He also had an earlier cycle with DG which often gets recommended but the sonics aren't as good as the later EMI set and other than Symphony 4, performance wise, everything else on EMI is as good if not better that it's DG counterpart. For me one of the biggest selling points is that Dresden brass! When I think of Bruckner I think of horns and the Dresden brass is just some of the best!

    Karajan is Karajan. His Bruckner is still a safe bet for most folks.

    Gunter Wand and the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra can also be had cheaply these days. While the Cologne Orchestra isn't Berlin or Dresden overall the performances are good and Gunter Wand was always a great Brucknerian.

    Georg Tintner on Naxos is also recommended by many. Tintner was also a great Brucknerian, however he uses some different score editions and he's a little idiosyncratic and the orchestras used aren't really traditional "Bruckner" orchestras, never the less the set still got a 10/10 from ClassicsToday.

    I haven't heard Skrowaczewski's cycle on Oehms with the Saarbrücken Radio Symphony but I've heard good things about it and ClassicToday just recently gave it a 10/10 for both performance and sound so that might be one to look at as well.
    Last edited by realdealblues; Jul-22-2014 at 16:46.

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    Senior Member SalieriIsInnocent's Avatar
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    Sounds like a winner to me. I have a Beethoven set with the Staatskapelle Dresden under Barenboim that sounds amazing, so I under Jochum, it shouldn't dissapoint.

    I agree, Karajan is Karajan, and that's why I love him, but in the end, I don't think every recording I have should be HVK with the Vienna or Berlin.

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    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SalieriIsInnocent View Post
    Sounds like a winner to me. I have a Beethoven set with the Staatskapelle Dresden under Barenboim that sounds amazing, so I under Jochum, it shouldn't dissapoint.

    I agree, Karajan is Karajan, and that's why I love him, but in the end, I don't think every recording I have should be HVK with the Vienna or Berlin.
    Barenboim's Beethoven Cycle was actually the Staatskapelle Berlin, not Dresden. But the Staatskapelle Dresden is one of the oldest and finest Symphonies in the world going back to the year 1548. They were every bit as good as the Berlin Philharmonic in my opinion, especially back in the 70's and 80's. Rudolf Kempe made his legendary Richard Strauss recordings with the Dresden Orchestra and Herbert Blomstedt made his popular Beethoven & Schubert Symphony Cycles with them as well. You definitely will not be disappointed with them, especially once you hear that brass section cranking out good and loud.

    There's nothing wrong with Karajan in my opinion either. I understand his constant push for "beauty" from the orchestra, especially the strings, and I can understand why some folks may not care much for that approach. To each his own. But if you're a Karajan fan, you may want to pickup Karajan's Bruckner Cycle at some point as well, just for another flavor.

    I constantly supplement my favorites. I still think Otto Klemperer's Bruckner 6 is my top pick for that particular symphony. Klemperer's 4 & 7 are also great. I have lots of recordings of Symphony 7 with Symphony 4 close behind because they are my two favorites, but for a starting out set I can't recommend the Jochum Dresden set enough, especially since you can get it from an Amazon Seller these days for like $20+3.99 shipping.

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    I think Jochum (DG) edges out Jochum (EMI/Brilliant Classics/Warner). No matter, Jochum's the Bruckner King.

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    This '66 HvK is the bomb, though sound could be better.


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    I like the 70s Karajan a little better. The Bohm ones are good too. Not hard to find good Bruckner. Just avoid Solti (same with Mahler for the same reasons.)
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    Senior Member SalieriIsInnocent's Avatar
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    I like Solti's Mahler. To each his own, I guess.

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    I have the Skrowaczewski and Karajan sets. As a complete package I would highly recommend either, but I prefer Skrowaczewski.

    Jochum cycle on EMI is certainly good. The sound on his DG set is the deal breaker. Brass sounds terrible, overall quality doesn't come close to the EMI recordings.
    Last edited by nightscape; Jul-24-2014 at 04:59.

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    I bought several of Karajan's Bruckner symphonies on DG cassettes in the 70s and 80s, but they just didn't "click" with me. Then I bought the Jochum EMI set when it became available in a budget CD box, and I liked it a lot. Maybe at least part of the difference was due to (cassettes + my cassette deck) versus CDs. At any rate, I no longer have the Karajans because I got rid of all my cassettes long ago. Maybe I should give him another chance?

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    I own the Jochum DG set, but for me Jochum is the emperor with no clothes when it comes to Bruckner. Rush, rush, rush. "I can't make this bit work, so I'll rush through it."
    I'd take Karajan over Jochum any day of the week.
    And I take Celibidache over everyone. Transfigurative performances in every sense.
    cheers,
    GG

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    I would recommend getting Karajan. This stuff sits right in the middle of his sweet spot sylistically. Gunther Wand (any of them) and Bohm are my other two favorites, along with Jochum and Karajan. The 60s Karajan seems to have better sound than the 70s ones and I like the clarity better myself, but the 70s ones are the ones people seem to prefer. To me the strings in the 70s ones seem to be blended together like mashed potatoes. Not much definition, just one big mass.

    For me, the important thing in Bruckner isn't the speed, faster- slower- it's all OK to me. The thing I am picky about is the control of dynamics and the rhythmic flow. The transitions need to be smooth and natural sounding, not massive contrasts butted right up against each other (Solti). I've found the conductors with a bit of Viennese lilt do best. The Vienna Philharmonic helps with this. (I'd like to hear Bruckner with the Czech Philharmonic. I bet that would be good.)
    Last edited by bigshot; Jul-28-2014 at 02:05.
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    I really like Wand. I haven't listened to every performance from every set, but all of them can safely be commended. A specific comment on his recordings with the Kölner RSO: while the orchestra's name may not come with the same prestige as, say, the Berliner Philharmoniker, I do not believe that those recordings are inferior in terms of either interpretation or playing quality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by realdealblues View Post
    My favorites will always be Eugen Jochum's Dresden Cycle on EMI (Now Warner).

    ClassicsToday gave the Jochum/Dresden set a 10 for Performance and 8 for Sound saying "You just can’t go wrong here. Through it all, the Staatskapelle Dresden plays with its customary warmth and beauty of tone, but also with a transparency of texture that never weighs the music down unnecessarily. The sonics are good, sometimes perhaps a touch bright, but never unpleasantly so."

    Jochum never disappoints and he is still tops on a few of the symphonies in my book. He also had an earlier cycle with DG which often gets recommended but the sonics aren't as good as the later EMI set and other than Symphony 4, performance wise, everything else on EMI is as good if not better that it's DG counterpart. For me one of the biggest selling points is that Dresden brass! When I think of Bruckner I think of horns and the Dresden brass is just some of the best!
    Thanks for the recommendation. This has always been my favorite orchestra. Years ago I had a copy of Bruckner's 6th by Jochum on DG. I liked it, but it wasn't my favorite Bruckner symphony so I pretty much ignored it after a couple of listens through. I will definitely seek out the set you recommended, if not for Jochum, at least for the Staatskapelle Dresden.

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    Overall, Karajan is my favorite, but for far better sound, especially if one has a multi-channel SACD system, Blomstedt's new cycle is excellent, too.


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