Sinfonie 1 C-Moll
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Bruckner: Symphony No. 1, Wab 101 / Adagio To Symphony No. 3, Wab 103
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Symphonie n° 1, WAB 101 - Adagio de la Symphonie n° 3 / Royal Scottish National Orchestra, dir. Georg Tintner
Was die Österreicher nicht schaffen, schaffen die rührigen Schotten unter Wiener Dirigat. Das Royal Scottish National Orchestra spielte kurz vor dem Tode des Dirigenten Georg Tintner die "wahre" Erste, die unveränderte Linzer Fassung von 1866 ein, an der kein Freund noch Helfer, auch nicht Bruckner selbst zwecks Zeitgeschmackannäherung manipuliert hatten. Bekannt sind heute die überarbeiteten Wiener Fassungen, irrtümlich ebenfalls unter dem Namen "Linzer Fassung", was viel zur Verwirrung beiträgt, letzlich aber für die ersten drei Sätze unbedeutend ist. Sie dokumentieren lediglich Bruckners Selbstzweifel.
In der neuen bei NAXOS erschienenen Aufnahme ist das Finale anders instrumentiert und einige Passagen weisen musikalische Abweichungen auf, Feinheiten für Bruckner-Kenner, die den Gesamteindruck kaum mindern, noch heben und letztlich nur für die Bruckner-Philologie von Belang sind. Wenn auch Georg Tintner sein ganzes Leben hindurch eine Affinität zu Bruckner hatte und dessen Werke häufig spielte, so beschränken sich seine Erläuterungen im Booklet nur auf Wagners Einflüsse, deren Gewicht er zu Gunsten Schuberts polemisch schmälert. Wiener Lokalpatriotismus? Die Aufnahme selbst lässt etwas an Frische vermissen. Sie klingt wie eine Pflichtübung. Es plätschert in den getragenen Passagen dahin und der benommene Hörer wacht erst beim feurigen Scherzo wieder auf, das allerdings ein dynamisches Glanzstück ist. Eine neu entdeckte Fassung des "Adagio" aus der 3. Simfonie rundet die Einspielung editionsgeschichtlich ab. Bisher gab es von diesem Satz ebenfalls zwei Fassungen (1873/1877). Die nun von Tintner eingepielte stellt eine mittlere (1876) dar, und sie ist, wie der Dirigent selbst zugibt, nur "durchaus hörenswert". Wer Bruckner richtig kennen lernen und genießen will, sollte vielleicht auf andere Aufnahmen zurückgreifen und diese Aufnahme den Archiven überlassen. --Mara Nottelmann-Feil
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ARTISTIC IMPRESSIONS AND IDEAS
My collection of Tintner's Bruckner was completed with this most recent purchase, being within the last 1 to 2 years, and the First, likely the 8th, or the 4th, or even the 7th. Once I found good to sometimes very good readings for a terrific price, I didn't stop until I had amassed them all. But, more than halfway through, I discovered the box set, which I think offered a fairly good discount. Simultaneously, I also began sampling Inbal on Teldec, with a better orchestra and superior sonics, but these Naxos recording of the recent years, have improved much and they are no longer the sort of "Walmart" thin quality, despite their obscure ensembles that are used. I recommend buying them individually, especially for those lucky dogs out there who are discovering the great symphonist for the first time. Yes, "symphonist," not composer. Bruckner wrote no opera, Concertante works, ballet or theater music. Just Symphonies, liturgical pieces, generally unaccompanied, and a smattering of solo organ pieces, despite his much praised keyboard technique.
As far as First Symphonies go, this one, written in the mid 1860's is quite big, brawny, and has a grandeur and an epic canvas that surprised me, once I became familiar with it. An early, and lifelong admirer of Wagner, regardless of the critical taboo of Viennese critics, he was influenced much by the hearings of both "Tannhauser" and "Tristan und Isolde," both in 1865. Rather than try to injest this thing about the "world premire of Haas/Carragan " and whom did what, I simply tried to listen to this very early work with an ear open to the emerging Bruckner style, which manifests itself frequently. Instead of coming off, weak, unsure and fragmentary, I found it rather cohesive, strong, bold and even confident of it's structure. In other words, better than I had suspected it would be. A significant improvement over the fabled "Die Nulte." I recommend it as such and give it a well deserved 3.75 StAR RAting with a solid positive nod. Hence, collecting these works disk by disk allows for a better overall assessment on this late April afternoon.
Best wishes and God bless you and yours, Tony.
A. M. D. G.
I have to say, the "Linz" version still is most convincing to these ears. Most of the differences are in the fourth movement, and while I do like some of his ideas in this version relative to his later ones, the fact is, no one can claim that the ending of the symphony in this first version is superior to the "Linz" revision--it's not even close. The fact is, if Bruckner didn't get the ending "right," the whole symphony really doesn't come together--and it doesn't in this first version, to my ears.
But the differences in the first version (this) and the Linz version are less important than the differences between how different conductors have interpreted this remarkable symphony. And sadly, if you came to this work for the first time listening to Tintner's performance, you'd question how I could possibly consider this a remarkable symphony that is a "radical piece of music." That's because Tintner puts across a snooze-fest, a slumbering, low-wattage recording of a charged work that in other hands utterly blows me away. Others have commented that this is a "heroic" interpretation, and I guess you could call it that, but however "heroic" the interpretation, it's lethargic, lacks energy, and seems pedantic because you hear only the "moving parts" without hearing the whir they create by instead coming together to achieve something far greater (which one other conductor has accomplished). This is interesting to listen to for comparative purposes, but anyone who thinks this is the last word on this symphony is missing out on something truly great--in other hands. However, I should note that the recording quality is excellent, and the playing of the Scottish National Orchestra is excellent. This is the same orchestra that played out of tune in Tintner's recording of Bruckner's 3rd and sounded like a fourth-rate orchestra?
Fortunately, there is one definitive and truly great performance of this symphony that is available, which should be a *mandatory* purchase for anyone who loves Bruckner's music. That is, the performance of Eugen Jochum conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra on DG Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 1 - 9. While Jochum's Symphony #1 is no longer available singly, the price on the complete set has come down considerably, and Jochum's performance of Symphony #1 ALONE justifies the entire purchase price--plus you get the rest of the symphonies too, some of which are remarkably performed (3,5,6,7,8).
Jochum's performance of #1 is not only a GREAT performance, but more than that, it's a DEFINITIVE one--meaning that once you hear it, there's no other way you can imagine it being played. It's superlative, and I lack words eloquent enough to convey how magnificent a performance it is. Jochum's conception of the symphony is a shocking and truly ferocious blast of energy that whipsaws the listener around sonically, rhythmically, and tonally (at times ambiguously so, particularly in the second movement) before finally reaching an overwhelming catharsis at the end in which pure sunlight burns through and utterly radiates. Even today, I listen to Jochum's performance and marvel at what an utterly original and truly radical piece of music that Bruckner wrote--and arguably it's the second most radical symphony he ever composed--after the 9th. I do not understand how so few conductors truly "get" this work (even those that have a strong affinity for Bruckner), and even less so, why it is so little performed.
But if there is any question in your mind whether #1 is truly a masterpiece and without question a great piece of music (albeit flawed, which I would acknowledge), listen to Jochum's Berlin Philharmonic/DG performance, and then come to your own conclusion. I'm still completely blown away by this symphony, and am thankful that Eugen Jochum was so brilliant as to illuminate its greatness to those of us lucky to have heard his performance of it, even if only in recording.
the unrevised version of the work. Masterly judgment and conducting. Orchestral sound is first class. One of the highlights in this Tintner's Bruckner symphony cycle.
So what of this original version of the First Symphony? Does it supplant the existing 1877 First?
To my mind, the answer is no. Indeed, a Charybdis has roared into being to accompany the Scylla that is the 1890 Vienna edition of the First. I detest both of them.
True, there are minimal changes to the first three movements. Most of the amendments come in the finale and to my ears, they are fussy and jejune. Listen to the Tintner at 4'57" which to my mind is where Bruckner becomes Bruckner. In the hands of a Karajan or a Barenboim (with the Berliners), it is also a textbook model of how to build and sustain momentum in a symphony. With Tintner, the argument is far more diffuse - and that's being polite. Bruckner was damned right to rework it in 1877 (and in passing, I urge you to avoid Wand in this symphony as he uses the 1890 version wherein a nervous Bruckner purged the youthful exuberance from the work: it is a travesty).
As always with Tintner, this is a Bruckner who does not smile. His Adagio is devoid of radiance. Credit-wise, the RSNO plays masterfully and the Naxos recording is superb.
While I have yet to hear the Young, the Karajan has commanded the high ground since the early 1980s and its longevity is no accident Bruckner: 9 Symphonies [Box Set]. There is also much to be said for the Barenboim which is one of the few highlights of his near-dismal cycle with the Berliners (Bruckner: Symphony No. 1 in C Minor (Linz version); 'Helgoland' (Symphonic Chorus For Male Voices And Orchestra)). Either of them will provide you with a better appreciation of this masterwork.
This recording, the first of the original version from 1866, is very special, and Tintner's illumination will be startling for those who know the symphony. Some of the harmonic changes are almost radical, given the time period. The last movement is strange enough that it will have you rethinking the composer's work completely - no small feat. There were moments when I almost felt as if I were listening to early Schoenberg.
But small differences in the language are evident in the three prior movements as well. Without going into exhaustive harmonic detail, listening to this recording caused me to muse on how Bruckner's path might have changed, and music history altered, if this "first draft" had received overwhelming acclaim. It might have led to even more original thoughts in the subsequent symphonies. After hearing this recording, the revised versions seem, well, more conservative.
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra sounds magnificent, and I'm not even going to qualify that comment, as some have, by comparing them with other "more Brucknerian" orchestras. What has been accomplished here is huge, and the RSNO's beautiful, heartfelt playing must be considered in any assessment of success. They get the job done, and more so. The Naxos recording is gorgeous - one of their best - with glowing, realistic sound and the huge climaxes making a great impact.
But it is Tintner, who sadly died just as his Bruckner cycle was complete, who will be really missed. It is intriguing to imagine the heights he might have reached, had he lived to explore (and record) the symphonies further. And his liner notes - scholarly and persuasive - show us that he was a fine writer as well.
So I cannot recommend this disc highly enough, particularly for Bruckner fans - but anyone new to the composer will find it just as satisfying. All the Brucknerian hallmarks are here: the long phrases rising to ecstatic climaxes, the subtle chord progressions embarking on journeys to other keys, the glorious writing for massed choirs of instruments, especially the brass section. I only wish Georg Tintner were still alive so I could congratulate him on what he accomplished: a major addition to our understanding of this composer.