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Thread: Brahms and Bruckner - what's the difference?

  1. #16
    Senior Member BlackAdderLXX's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MatthewWeflen View Post
    I'd say the difference is about 40 minutes.

    edit: I kid. I enjoy both.
    This made me laugh. Honestly I've only listened to Bruckner like once or twice because his symphonies require so much time.

    Eta: I'll get around to it at some point but the length of his symphonies has been a major factor in why I'm waiting to explore his music.
    Last edited by BlackAdderLXX; Jul-13-2021 at 11:27.
    I'm realizing that my answer to the "favorite recording" question is usually Bruno Walter.

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    One can play them faster, but the very music is different and will never become as flashy as Liszt or Saint-Saens. Similiarly for the symphonic structure and scale of these concertos.
    The Finale of the 1st Concerto is an obvious example of flashiness. Try Horowitz/Walter for example, if not allergic to the historical sound. It's a way of playing Brahms that has been largely forgotten.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Jul-13-2021 at 12:25.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joen_cph View Post
    The Finale of the 1st Concerto is an obvious example of flashiness. Try Horowitz/Walter for example, if not allergic to the historical sound. It's a way of playing Brahms that has been largely forgotten.

    You are almost making want to go revisit the Brahms Piano Concertos. Brahms is one of my favorite composers, and I do love his symphonies, and like his Violin Concerto, although it is not one of my absolute favorites. The Piano Concertos are his two orchestral/concertante works that I never understood or liked. They always seemed to me to be long, rambling symphonies with piano obbligato that I found boring, extremely boring. This despite the fact that I do love his Symphonies Nos. 1 to 4. At least in theory, some extra flash in them would be quite welcome. I will try to dig up the recordings by Horowitz and Rubinstein. As someone who is often bothered by recording sound quality, or the lack of it, do you have any suggestions for a "flashy" modern recording of the concertos.

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    Senior Member joen_cph's Avatar
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    Not really, but Manz/Mandeal are among the quicker in both, however not in bravura style. The 1st Concerto, but in the more subdued Woodward/Masur recording, quite rare these days, was my introduction to Brahms, and I surely never tired of it.

    For other, feverish early recordings, Horowitz/Toscanini in the 2nd, and Rubinstein/Coates, ditto.

    I never really fell under the alleged spell of Edwin Fischer/Furtwangler in the 2nd. I prefer early Backhaus, but his late recordings lacked interest for me, and therefore I haven't heard much of his early stuff.

    Obviously, a lot of people have a different taste.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Jul-13-2021 at 14:32.

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  7. #20
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    The difference (to me): I like Brahms. I don't particularly like Bruckner. :-)

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    That's the majority view actually. Brahms appeals to a wider public. If forced to choose, I'd take Anton. Luckily, there's no such obligatory choice.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Jul-13-2021 at 16:29.

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    Brahms and Bruckner - what's the difference?

    Both use classic styles but Brahms looked to the past -- even to the Renaissance -- for forms as late as his 4th symphony. Brahms wasn't just as classicist in the romantic era; he was a throwback.

    Meanwhile Bruckner, who started using classical styles, was influenced indirectly by Liszt and directly by Wagner and his mature style is closer to those two -- Liszt for distending development through repetitive devices and Wagner for use of new instruments and late 20th century forms of expression.
    Last edited by larold; Jul-13-2021 at 18:11.

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    A better question would be: What are the similarities between the two? Which other than the decades they both composed in, and that both composed things they called symphonies, is pretty much an empty set. :-)

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    deleted duplication
    Last edited by larold; Jul-13-2021 at 18:09.

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    A better question would be: What are the similarities between the two?

    The only similarity I can find is a certain likeness between each of their first symphonies.

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    Senior Member RogerWaters's Avatar
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    Is it accurate to say that Brahms introduces new material at the earliest opportunity he can? No sooner is an idea presented as a theme than it is transitioned into something else... like his expositions are quasi-developments all of their own? Bruckner on the other hand can sit on something for longer (much longer!) and let it breathe, take flight.

    Questions:

    -Are themes in Mozart and Beethoven, for instance, just as 'unstable' as Brahms?

    -Are there just as many ideas in a Mozart or Beethoven piece as a Brahms one?
    Last edited by RogerWaters; Jul-14-2021 at 04:48.

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    Of those, Mozart is the composer with the most material. There are expositions with half a dozen distinguishable "themes" or more (esp. in some piano concerti), and often only one or two of them are really "developed", the others are just there, e.g. for melodic contrast, for "transition sections" or so where other composers would not use new material.

    Brahms certainly does in a sense expand the development of motives over the whole movement (there are already similar things in Beethoven (and Haydn and Mozart) but Brahms overall pushed it to another level, I'd say, this is supposedly one of the points Schoenberg wanted to make with his "Brahms the progressive" essay). But this also means that it is often not really something "new" that is introduced. Therefore it seems wrong that he introduces new material at the earliest opportunity. (The most obvious case for introducing highly contrasting material (beyond some non-jarring "call-response" contrasts like the beginning of Mozart's K 271 or 551) within seconds is the beginning of Beethoven's quartet op.95. I don't think Brahms has such lightning changes anywhere, whereas they are frequent in Beethoven.)
    That said, I rarely had a problem with "graspable" themes or melodies in most large scale Brahms pieces and compared to Haydn or some Beethoven the scale and the speed of "unfolding" is not too fast either. There are differences, of course, the 1st mvmt of Brahms 2nd symphony is maybe the most expansive and relaxed and even in the tempestous 3rd the 2nd theme gets

    The reason of the contrast seems more that Bruckner is really extreme in his broadness and expansiveness; with a few exceptions by Schubert I think this is unprecedented and overall quite rare in music between baroque and early modernity, even in comparably large scale pieces like late Beethoven or Mahler or Strauss or other late romantics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joen_cph View Post
    The Finale of the 1st Concerto is an obvious example of flashiness.
    I disagree. It is virtuosic but not brilliant and flashy compared to a lot of other 19th century piano music. It is also mighty long (almost as long as a whole Konzertstück could have been) and screams louder: "I am the disciple of Bach and Beethoven (the sections of the movement, including some tonal relationships and the appearance of fugato are modelled after the finale of Beethoven's c minor concerto)" than: "I am the greatest pianist in town".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    I disagree. It is virtuosic but not brilliant and flashy compared to a lot of other 19th century piano music. It is also mighty long (almost as long as a whole Konzertstück could have been) and screams louder: "I am the disciple of Bach and Beethoven (the sections of the movement, including some tonal relationships and the appearance of fugato are modelled after the finale of Beethoven's c minor concerto)" than: "I am the greatest pianist in town".
    I'm not sure we really disagree that much about this, it's rather a question of the glass being half full or half empty, but there's a display of pianistic brilliance/'tons-of-notes' for sure. Btw, like you could say of Bach's d-minor concerto too. However, what pianists choose to display or focus on may vary, including the degree of virtuoso display, novelistic drama, or contrasting features, for example.
    Last edited by joen_cph; Jul-14-2021 at 14:21.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    It is also mighty long (almost as long as a whole Konzertstück could have been) and screams louder: "I am the disciple of Bach and Beethoven (the sections of the movement, including some tonal relationships and the appearance of fugato are modelled after the finale of Beethoven's c minor concerto)" than: "I am the greatest pianist in town".
    To me, it just screams; "GUTEN TAG!"
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Jul-14-2021 at 14:49.

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