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Musical Discussions
Topic: Congrats

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 08-12-2013
It is kind of suck for Bruckner lovers in America.  The American audience do not listen Bruckner too much so the orchestras understandably do not book Bruckner ‘s  symphonies.  If some visiting conductors do Bruckner then the US orchestras do not do good job to play Bruckner. Here in Boston we kind of luck to have Zander who live to book Bruckner. Still his orchestra has not necessarily has right gravitas for Bruckner music, even though they do have some partial successes a few years back with 5th symphony. We also do not have in Boston proper concert hall to accommodate Bruckner sound. The celebrated Symphony Hall is more or less OK for Stravinsky of Bartok consorts but it is too fast for Bruckner music.

Anyhow, it looks like this season we get a bit lucky here in Boston.

On January 16 2014 Christoph Eschenbach takes Boston symphony on Bruckner 9. BSO in current state is notoriously bad with Bruckner. Bruckner is about meditative complicated sonorities and unique harmonic transitions. BSO today is nowhere near to be able to handle it. It is kind of ridicules as BSO individuals musicals are very much top notch but the orchestra as a whole sounds like crap. Playing Bruckner 50% of time BSO brass off the tune or losing that feel of Bruckner evolution when sound get transitioned between the sections. It was when they play the B7 a few years under Hans Graf and it was in particularly horrible at the beginning of this year during B4 under Christoph von Dohnányi. Let hope that German Mr. Eschenbach will be able to do something with BSO. He spent unfortunately most of his career with American orchestras but still…. let hope. The takers are available now.

On Wednesday, March 19, 2014 Zubin Mehta brings in Boston Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra and they play no less than B8. The Israeli Philharmonic is kind of wrong orchestra to play Bruckner, listening their other recording it is very clear that they hardly understand what they play. Still, in context of Bruckner Zubin Mehta is very interesting character. Sometime he is known to shoe off very stimulating Bruckner with probably Mecca of his Bruckner accomplishment was B9 with Vienna. At that time Mr. Zubin was just 29 years old and it was fantastic. They say that only very mature concoctors have proper patience and understanding to play Bruckner properly. Zubin Mehta today 77, so let see how it goes. For sure I wish it be not Israeli but Austa-German orchestra but it is what it is. The tickets udder the Celebrity Series umbrella will be available soon.

On Friday February 28 2014 Benjamin Zander unlashes Boston Philharmonic on Bruckner 7 and it will be not in shitty Hardware Hall of NE Conservatory Whole but in Symphony Hall, which it not great but still better. That might be very interesting. I kind of feel especial pride as I was bugging Zander that he has to book B7 in Boston. Here it came!!! Of cause I feel that I did it – let me to leave with my fantasies. This consent will be kind of strange as Amy will not coming and sitting with me. So, we will not able able to purr together and look at each other after orchestra did something distinctive good or bad. I absolutely adore sitting on concerns with her - she is such a pleasurable listener companion! Well, she will be not with me as she will be playing. For sure I will be happy and proud for her but frankly I will be missing her touch, her smell and her physical presence. BTW, this consent will come with Robert Levin playing Mozart Piano Concerto No. 25 wish might be very interesting as well. The takers will be available in September.

Anyhow, it looks like it will be good Bruckner year. The new BSO musical director Andris Nelsons in his interview did mention that he would like to explore Bruckner music with BSO. Of course it was juts before he have cancel his appearance in Tanglewood…

Romy the Cat

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 08-12-2013
Just recently I listened on an OTA tape of the B7 with the BSO under Simon Rattle. It was gorgeous! Unfortunately I forgot to note the date, nor can I locate any record of the concert. I'll do my best to get a CD masterdub of it from my usual source, but that won't be soon. Also I'll pick up a B8 from c.1978, the BSO again with the American debut of Klaus Tennstedt. It was grand! (I do have a 10" reel from OTA but who knows how that sounds thirty-five years later?)


Posted by Paul S on 08-12-2013
Clark, I love it that, while the rest of us talk about and accumulate gear, you have quietly and relentlessly filled your entire house with some of the greatest performances in history! Now, that's keeping one's priorities straight!  Bravo!

Best regards,
Paul S

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 08-12-2013
Maybe 15K LPs, 30K 78s and hundreds of tapes and even CDs. Music in every room!

Romy's got a considerable collection too.


Posted by steverino on 08-22-2013
Unfortunately Lenny Bernstein did nothing to advance Bruckner here and the critic Harold Schonberg kept up the verbal abuse against him for 30 years or so. Romy is correct that Bruckner requires performance familiarity. A few rehearsals won't cut it. The same goes for conductors who give it a go once each leapyear.  For some reason Eschenbach is scintillating with choral works and mediocre with orchestral works. I would pay to hear him do the Bruckner Te Deum but I would keep my expectations in bounds with him doing a Bruckner symphony but hope for the best. But from what you say even if Eschenbach were stellar the BSO could mess it up anyway. If I had to guess, the Adagio will probably come off better than the first 2 movements.

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 08-23-2013
Here's a performance recording that's just amazingly fine with an orchestra barely familiar with the material, and performed after only the standard rehearsal time. From 1935, it's the Seventh with the NY Phils under... Toscanini.


Posted by Romy the Cat on 01-17-2014
Christoph Eschenbach led last night BSO with the Bruckner symphony and it was somewhere between “boring” and “waste of time”. I hope the Saturday performance will be better. We had tickets for Saturday but we will be out of town, so we went for Thursday. Can you believe how bad was it if I feel that listening Bruckner in Boston was a waste of time?

Well, tomorrow at midnight an audio guy flies to Boston for “all-nigh Bruckner listening session”. I think I will have opportunity to recover from yesterday boring and inapt BSO play.  I think some orchestras juts shall not be playing Bruckner….

The Cat

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 01-17-2014
Thanks for the tip, I may even skip it on the broadcast.

Back in '69 I heard the London Phils do the B9 under Haitink in the Royal Festival Hall. It was pretty much what Romy says about the Eschenbach.

Want a great but barely known recording? The Munich Phils under Sigmund von Hausegger from 1938. He was the first conductor to perform the B9 in its original form, in a historic 1932 concert that opened with Lowe's Wagnerized version, then after intermission Bruckner's stark own.

The original 78s (I have both HMVs and RCAs, the latter preferred) sound, of course, way better than any of the anemic transfers I've heard. Oh, well.


Posted by Romy the Cat on 01-17-2014
Well, unfortunately, or fortunately, Giulini with Vienna during this live 1988 performance have closed any imaginable interpretation of Bruckner 9. At least it is the way how I feel….

In Feb 13, 8PM, Herbert Blomstedt will be leading San Francisco Symphony with Bruckner 5. It will be live over WHRB. On the same WHRB on Feb 27, 7PM Benjamin Zander will be selling his upcoming Bruckner7 with Boston Philharmonic Orchestra

Posted by steverino on 01-17-2014
My and Romy's posts above from a few months ago indicated this would happen so there shouldn't be any surprise. Again, Eschenbach excels mainly in choral works for some reason. Many US orchestras have far more difficulty with Bruckner than with Mahler in my experience. Frequency of performance plays a role but I also think Bruckner is harder to play, except possibly the 7th Sym.  I would assume Esch is OK in Mozart and Haydn as well given his recording history. Just out of curiosity did they play the Adagio "better" than the first 2 movements?

Re: Mehta. I decided to try the Berlin Phil Live website. He is performing the 9th this Saturday 1/18 at 8 Berlin time. 

Re: Blomstedt. I heard a decent performance from him in B9 some years ago so it might be ok.

Posted by Romy the Cat on 10-15-2021
Tonight Amy, after so many problems with work, kids, husbands, etc… will be playing Bruckner 8 in Symphony Hall

It looks like the event  will be available for live broadcast…

Posted by steverino on 10-15-2021
Best wishes for Amy, Unfortunately Bruckner did not write great parts for violas generally.

Posted by Romy the Cat on 10-16-2021
Like in anything else with B8 in your life there is a little story with last night concert. Here is a letter Amy sent to Zander 2 days before the performance.

Dear Ben,
I realize this is a rather outrageous request, but is there any way I might still play the Bruckner? Not having BPO has been one of the harder things about COVID (and having spent a lot of time on the COVID wards, I saw a lot of hard things). Seeing that we were starting with B8 felt a divine signal that it was really going to get better. I have a particular love of B8 amongst symphonies - I met my husband over a mutual love of Bruckner and we eloped and got married to the B8 Adagio. 
Even longer than my love of B8 for being instrumental in bringing about my marriage, I have loved it for being instrumental in my general joy through playing in BPO. You probably don't remember, but the reason I'm playing in BPO now is that when I was an intern you were playing B8, and I was so desperate to play I asked you if I could join just that concert - you said no, but that I could play in BPO in general. B8 brought me together with BPO as well as my husband. 
The next time we played it was during my oncology fellowship. One of the most potent memories I have in music and medicine is driving to Sanders for the Sunday concert and getting the call that a particularly dear young patient of mine had finally died of his leukemia after deciding to return Guatemala to see his children one more time rather than getting more treatment when he relapsed. He had said he was going to cross the border and see us again for more treatment, but we all knew it was goodbye - and a painful microcosm of the unfairness even of tragedy in this world. I was so very sad remembering him as we played, but then as I listened to the brass playing particularly beautifully, and particularly hauntingly, at the end of the Adagio, the music was suddenly not just B8, but a prayer for Rafael rising from our little stage in Cambridge to Guatemala to the heavens. One of the most miraculous moments of my life, and one that has sustained my soul through much.
One of these hard times is now - I had to drop out of rehearsals - and also take an urgent leave from work - because my 5 y/o son is in emotional crisis and I have had to drop everything to be with him. Because it was B8, my husband really wanted me to play. I went to the Sunday rehearsal, and during that time he ran away from my parents and they had to call the police to help find him. Child in need beats even Bruckner. But, in an almost equally divine-seeming sign, we found an amazing nanny named Charlie for my Charlie, and he is doing so well with him that I could actually go to a rehearsal today and play tomorrow. 

Again, I completely realize how unusual it is to ask to play with so little rehearsing, but I know this piece with my heart, and oh would being able to play it - and with BPO in Symphony Hall - be a ray of hope and healing to grab and climb right now. 
So many words, and not so well formed, but oh to play B8, if in any way possible!!
With deep gratitude for all you and BPO have given me,

Posted by Romy the Cat on 12-26-2021

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