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Topic: Bruckner, me and the Seventh

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Posted by Romy the Cat on 07-17-2007

A few years ago I did not “get” Bruckner. Then, like with everything else, it changed. And of course being a compulsive feline, I can not get enough of what I like….

I admit that I listen quite a lot of Bruckner lately. There is something very meditativly-cathartic and introvertialy-liberative in his sound and in his harmonies. The Bruckner’s sound is not the bombastic and frequently annoying Mahler expressionism, it is not the syrupy simpleton-paradise of the Slav’s composers, it is not the sugary-sentimental and glitzy French expressionism, and it is not violently-inventive sound of the 20th century composers. The Bruckner sound is rich within own meaning and meaningful within own richness.

I have written in a few places about various Bruckner’s works and this thread I would like dedicate to the Seventh. It is a famous and a quite popular work and I have realized that it is what I probably played the most frequently over the last year. Among all Seventh that have (LP, CD, FM etc) here are some of my most favorite… They are very approximately ordered with the best atop, however the keyword here is “approximately”. Music is not a Olympic competition and the winners and looser in music are as not defined as in sport…. So, take my order very interpretively, knowing that the order is plus/minus 3-4 positions in my list. I would appreciate if someone would offer other interesting Bruckner’s Seventh performances.

  • Von Matacic with Czechs, 1967
  • Toscanini with Ney York, 1935
  • Karajan with Wiener, 1980
  • Rosbaud with German Radio, 1957
  • Knappertsbusch with Vienna, 1949 (not the later)
  • Abendroth with Berliner Rundfunks, 1956
  • Karajan with Berlin, 1970
  • Furtwangler with Berlin, 1942 only
  • Celibidache with Stuttgart Radio only, 1971
  • Blomstedt with Dresden, 1980
  • Jochum with Dresden, 1976(juts for the first movement)  and with Berlin (for the rest)
  • Oswald Kabasta with Dresden, 1942
  • Walter with Vienna, 1961
  • Klemperer with Philharmonia, 1960  (not with Berlin)
  • Horenstein with Berlin, 1928 (first recording of the Seventh)

Ah, how right was Mraviansky canceling the performance of the Seventh after that transcending rehearsal….

Rgs, Romy the Cat

Posted by ybao on 07-18-2007
MIT Summer PHilharmonic Orchestra is playing Bruckner's Symphony No.6 in A major (1881) on Saturday, August 11, 2007, at 8:00 P.M. in Kresge Auditorium at MIT.

Posted by Romy the Cat on 07-19-2007

So, it will be a double humiliation. First of all you suggest me hear an American Orchestra playing Bruckner and secondary it will be played by a band of the Las Vegas’ poker players…

Ok, I’m kidding, sort of. In fact I never head that band. Are they good?  They play a consert per year… It is because they rehearsal a lot or because they are shamed to play more… :-) BTW, will you be playing there, Yubo? Perhaps after the concert we could go to my place to listen the Br7 by Toscanini 1935… I assure it will be more interesting…

BTW, Toscanini does not play Br7 as German orchestras do, he rather play it like Americans do – slightly overly decorated with woodwinds and brass slightly forward and overly articulated. Still, THAT Toscanini has very different sound then a typical American orchestras and his Bruckner sound more like calmed and “confident” Tchaikovsky only loaded with catholic drama… Very interesting…

Rgs, Romy the Cat

Posted by ybao on 07-19-2007
As a matter of fact BSO has played many Bruckner Symphonies in the past decades.
Honestly I've never heard MIT Summer Symphony before - so don't know how good they are. I met the conductor at a concert he did at Longy. And after a refrence from a friend, he invited me for an audition. However I'm already playing with Brahm's Society by the then, and they have a frequent rehearsal schedule. Will see if I'm interested after their concert, which I'll probably go - would like to hear your Toscanini's Br7 at some point. know much about the piece yet.

Posted by clarkjohnsen on 07-23-2007
Of the ones I know, your list is excellent. Not that hot on the Rosbaud and Klemperer, actually. I can only add the van Beinum. Wish I knew the von Matacic.

Regarding Toscani, I auditioned this a few years ago at the Museum of Broadcasting (Hollywood), the only place to hear it, and man! was I impressed. How the Maestro could disparage Bruckner yet turn out a performance like that... At any rate here are a few notes on the newly-available CD:

Regarding Furtwaengler, I find the '49 BPO performance preferable (and the '51 is not bad), but there's no gainsaying that the adagio from the '42 beats all.

Finally I also like a Celibidache with (it says) the VPO, but it may be the same recording as the one with the SDR; I've been meaning to check that.


PS A dark-horse entry is the Steinberg with Pittsburgh.

Posted by Romy the Cat on 07-23-2007

Yep, the Toscanini performance was a big surprise to me as well. Interestingly he does not play it as I would like Buckner generally, it is too “artistically expressive”, good only for Rimsky-Korsakov or Ravel but… still the way how Toscanini’s orchestra pump the pressure is nothing short of phenomenal. It is certainly the class of it’s own! I am not a huge fan of Toscanini but sometime he can really burn the ground with his play.

Interestingly that Celibidache is completely ran out from my preferences: his brushed-up studio recordings with full of artificial affords play I nowadays perceive as boring.

I keep bugging Yoshi, he is in Japan now, to bring me a set of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 by Takashi Asahina with Tokyo SO from 90s it should be very interesting… The damn Japanese have quite a price tag on the Asahina’s Buckner… :-(

Rgs, The caT

Posted by Romy the Cat on 07-27-2007

I have added to my list the Karajan’ recording with Wiener Philharmonic made in April 1989, sorry I missed it initially. Karajan generally with Vienna is more interesting then with Berlin Philharmonic, not to mention that he is generally better recorded with Vienna. Karajan recorded the Seventh 15 times:

1964 (Vienna) Radio Broadcast: Amsterdam
1966 (Vienna) Italy Studio: Salzburg
1969 (Berlin) Radio Broadcast: Salzburg
1969 (Berlin) DG Studio
1971 (Berlin) DG Studio
1973 (Vienna) Radio Broadcast: Salzburg
1974 (Vienna) Radio Broadcast: Linz
1975 (Vienna) Radio Broadcast: Vienna
1975 (Berlin) DG Studio
1975 (Berlin) Radio Broadcast: Berlin
1979 (Berlin) Radio Broadcast: Salzburg
1980 (Vienna) Radio Broadcast: Salzburg
1982 (Berlin) Radio Broadcast: Lucerne
1989 (Vienna) Radio Broadcast: Vienna
1989 (Vienna) DG Studio

I did not hear all of the recordings but among what I heard the Berlin recording that was made in winter 1970-71 and the Vienna recording in 1989 the most interesting to me. It is amazing how different the Karajan Bruckner’s Seventh sound with Vienna and Berlin.

With Berlin the Seventh is large and powerful, masculine and bold. The orchestra sounds perfectly and superbly professional; the playing discipline is exemplary, with no sensible efforts or strength to play music. The Bruckner with Berlin is monumental and controlling. The Bruckner expressionism hits you with own superiority and subordinate you awareness to own force. You do not own this music; you rather are a witnessing the music and the music informs you about you nothingness and compares your nothingness with own musical greatness.

With Vienna is totally different ball game.

Vienna sounds is more feminine, softer and much more gentile. Vienna is one of the very few orchestras in the World that is capable to play very-very slow, still maintaining own energetic references to the whole, spread in time, phrases. What also Vienna is amassing in is their ability to create drama or beauty from totally nothing, without using the typical for other orchestras impressions-pumping methods. It might be a very simple phrase but Vienna can do it with such a charm that observing it and the pleasure of experiencing it become a self-contained value. The Vienna’s “jointing group”: trumpets, trombones, clarinets, bassoons, tubas and French horns and their ability to play along with the rest of orchestra I think is absolutely unmatched by any other orchestra in the world.

So, what Karajan did with Vienna in 1989? It was the typical Vienna’s parade-ole. Beautifully-slow, lush, soft, gentile and with stunning sense of balance, dazzling tone and the quality of play that is way beyond of any imaginary criticism to a group of people to play music (with some very minor problems in the mid-end of the last movement). It was Karajan’s last recording ever, so he took his time. It dose not sound like typical latest Karajan recordings – it is very different – paraphrasing Michael Corleone from “Godfather”: it has nothing to do with business - it is personal…

That personal touch of the Vienna 1989’s Bruckner Seventh is something that very much distinct it from Berlin 1971. The Berlin’s Seventh subordinate you to own glory, the Vienna’s Seventh invite to be co-witness of glory. Berlin’s Seventh informs you about your nothingness, the Vienna’s Seventh makes you a part of glory and invite to explore the gap between glory and nothingness. Berlin’s Seventh is arrogant, egotistical and superior in its capacity; the Vienna’s Seventh embraces you into own superiority and makes you sense how superiority “feels like” and enables you to compare it with you “normal” inferior state. The Vienna’s Seventh is not judgmental and not abusive. It might lack the Berlin’s testerone but it sends the same message but only via the deferent means. The Vienna Seventh’s means are the means of an orchestra that do not need already to prove anything to anybody. It creates an invitation event, it builds a fantastic Brucknerian communication bridge, and then it hangs on the bridge the Christmas tree’s ornamentation and colorful lights, proposing a listener to travel along with them to the times and the spaces where the little Austrian boy Anthon played organ in a small church and was able with the sound of his little organ to touch the voices of God...

Rgs, Romy the Cat

Posted by Romy the Cat on 07-31-2007
 Romy the Cat wrote:
I keep bugging Yoshi, he is in Japan now, to bring me a set of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 by Takashi Asahina with Tokyo SO from 90s it should be very interesting… The damn Japanese have quite a price tag on the Asahina’s Buckner… 
Hey, Clark, what do you know?

Yoshi just came back and informed the he borough for me 7.8.9 by Takashi Asahina with Tokyo. That is very interesting…. However, my tail is virtually trembling because other goodies that Yoshi brought along with Takashi. It is Beethoven’s "Egmont" Overture by Herbert Kegel that he played in 1989 during his Tokyo performance with Dresden Philharmonic. What Kegel did with Egmont is nothing short of astonishing…

Long live that freaking island!!!
The caT

Posted by dazzdax on 08-05-2007
Hi Roman, what do you think of Georg Tintner's Bruckner VII (or the other Bruckner symphonies conducted by him)? And how is Barenboim's?


Posted by Romy the Cat on 08-05-2007
I never heard Georg Tintner’s Buckner 7 at all. I heard one Tintner’s “beginning” symphonies; do not even remember how it was… The Barenboim… I love what he talks instead of conducting…. What he was young his music was good though….

Posted by Romy the Cat on 08-21-2007
 Romy the Cat wrote:
I keep bugging Yoshi, he is in Japan now, to bring me a set of 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 by Takashi Asahina with Tokyo SO from 90s it should be very interesting… The damn Japanese have quite a price tag on the Asahina’s Buckner… :-(

I do not know… The Asahina’s Bruckner is like new shoes – they might be right size but they do not really make you comfortable.

In fact I more inclined to say that I do not like Asahina or if I would be forced to say that I dod like him then I would put his somewhere way behind Klemperer and Horenstein. Asahina Takashi sometimes dives in some strange semi-dancing attitude, where he is tying to make sound unnecessary melodious and cultured. It would be fine where it is necessary but when it is not necessary in the music then Asahina’s desire for “smooth esthetism” sounds very ridicules and inappropriate.

Then Asahina’s orchestras have a very strange dramatic expressionism, both Tokyo Metropolitan with 7th and NHK symphony with 8th and 9th. The German/Austrian orchestras play just dramatically. British orchestras put in front of the orchestra brasses, making them to scream about drama.  The Americans orchestras shatter up instruments making you feel a regretful drama. Russians orchestra burn up instrument on the stage and then you feel the dramaturgical compassion while you see musicians cover own heads with warm ash. The Asahina’s orchestras are different. Their drama is the class of it’s own. The Asahina’s drama is 20 oversized, LCD-injected angels, with attached propellers are flying over your head and scramming “drama, drama!”. The Asahina’s is trying to be dramatic but it sounds more funny then dramatic. I would not mention also that the Asahina’s orchestras do not play long phrases as they do not remember how they started the phrases….

The Asahina’s sound is more or less disciplined and does not sound accidentals. However, it is not correct Bruckner sound and many phrases are very poorly articulated/expressed, not to mention some clear mistakes. Perhaps I need to get Asahina’s performances from 70s but the recordings that I got (live 2001) are incredibly boring (though I admit that I have heard much worst). The orchestra does not take own time to CELEBRATE THE EVENT but they are juts crashing through the notes… very said to hear….

The applauses in the end of the performances are enthusiastic, however,…

Rgs, Romy the caT

Posted by JANDL100 on 09-27-2007

My first post here!

I'm a big fan of Bruckner, too.  I have a few different recordings of the 7th - In reverse alphabetical order, cos that's the way they're piled up now I've taken them off my CD shelves! ....

Tintner, Muhai Tang, Suitner, Solti, Kurt Sanderling, Matacic (Cz PO 1967), Matacic (VSO, 1979), Matacic (Slovene PO, 1984), Konwitschny (1958), Karajan (BPO 1971), Karajan (DG, VPO 1990), Kabasta (1942), Eugen Jochum (1944), Jochum (Dresden 1980), Inbal, Haenchen, Guilini, Gielen, Furtwangler (1949), Colin Davis, Chailly, Bohm (VPO 1977), Barenboim (BPO), D'Avalos, Asahina (1975), Abbado

Let's see, that's 26 I think.

Possibly my favourites (in reverse alphabetical order!) are - Tintner, Sanderling, Matacic (67), Matacic (84 - cos it's his final recording!), Kabasta, Bohm, Barenboim & Asahina.

What a wonderful work!


Posted by JANDL100 on 09-27-2007
Tintner's is quite possibly my favourite opening of the 7th - hushed, mysterious, tremulous and Oh, so atmospheric.  Wonderful sound quality too!

Posted by Romy the Cat on 09-27-2007

 JANDL100 wrote:
Tintner's is quite possibly my favourite opening of the 7th - hushed, mysterious, tremulous and Oh, so atmospheric.  Wonderful sound quality too!
Well, eventually I got a civilized person reading this site.

The opening of the Buckner 7th is a separate subject all-together. It is so great that it itself might compared in own greatness with the greatness of the entire symphony. It is like the orchestral introduction of the Rach’s Second Concerto – a few notes are enough to understand if it will be juts a concert of the Event. Ironically in those few opening notes of Buckner 7th concentrated more information about audio then in a life subscription of Absolute Sound magazine.

I never heard the Tintner’s opening, in fact I never heard Tintner’s 7th. With such a monumental and popular works as Buckner 7th is uselessly our favorite are the one that refer us to some live experiences that we had “living” with Buckner 7th.  Toward to this end the Czech Philharmonic lead by Von Matacic in 1967 is my absolutely the “most important” and if I might say so “sensational”. In fact I sometimes prefer to skip it during the “routine listening”….

Interesting that you mentioned Asahina. I got his recoding from 90s recently and I am not a big fun of them. In fact lately I begin to hate them. I heard that his performances from 70s were much more interesting… Is it so?

Rgs, Romy the Cat

Posted by JANDL100 on 09-27-2007
Thanks for the compliment Romy - nice forum site you have here !!

Yes, you really must hear the Tintner 7th - a very special performance, not just the opening.  If I could only keep two 7ths I think it would be the Matacic 1967 & the Tintner.

Asahina's 1975 Bruckner 7th is probably at the bottom of the list of my faves.  But still very good - quite atmospheric, but a bit lacking in character.   My fave Asahina performance I have heard is an amazing Shostakovich 5th - really, really deeply felt.  I also have all 4 Brahms syms on DVD with Asahina with the Osaka PO - available from an eBay seller & cheap too.

rgds, Jerry

Posted by JANDL100 on 09-28-2007
... I should have mentioned - I've not heard the 1990 recording so I cannot compare them.

rgds, Jerry

Posted by Romy the Cat on 12-01-2007
If you are in Asahina, I am not; there the Osaka Philharmonic is selling off its stock of LP recordings. Information (in Japanese) is available at:
All LPs are new and unsprayed.

Posted by Romy the Cat on 12-28-2007

It is hard to stress how much “right tone” an orchestra need to play the adagio from Bruckner 7. It might be a good orchestra but it might still be “the-Adagio-incompatible” and I have seen very few of them that are compatible.

I am playing now a very serious from my point of view Brucknerist – Herbert Blomstedt. The orchestra is the oldest orchestra in the word- the Staatskapelle Dresden that was formed in 1548.  They are not the greatest tonal orchestra out there but they “might” play once in a while. Whatever Bromstedt does with this play is very fine but the “tone” – it is like nothing, particularly in Adagio. You can play Stravinsky, Mozart or even Brahms with this tone. With Bruckner however it becomes very shallow and with the Adagio it becomes very vulgar…

I need to write up a new methodology for playback assessment: 3 second of the adagio from the Seventh and nothing else required to be heard….

The Cat

Posted by JANDL100 on 12-28-2007
Hi Romy

Have you received the CDR pack I sent you which includes the Tintner Bruckner 7?   If not, it must be lost and I'll send it again.

I don't know if it will have the "right tone" though - you know, I didn't think this was possible, but I think you are getting even fussier about recordings and orchestral sound as time goes by!!     80)

Rgds, Jerry

Posted by dazzdax on 12-28-2007
Hi Jerry, the Tintner recording of Bruckner VII is excellent. It's a pity he didn't include the (albeit controversial but certainly spectacular) cymbal crash towards the end of the second movement.


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