Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rozhdestvensky conducts Bruckner’s Fourth

   Symphony was pure classical form, perfectly matching enlightenment ideas with its formal balance and clear emotional rhetoric. After Beethoven’s improvements it became suitable container ready for romantic ideas. The augmented construction where minuet has been replaced with scherzo has still had a great potential for developing expressive and rhetoric means. And next generations in 19th century music have adopted this symphonic idea of forming and rebuilding construction of symphony. They gain excellent results giving different and new directions for French symphonic music, Austrian and German symphonies or Russian symphonic movement in romanticism and then in 20th century music. One of highest achievements as composer of full-blown romantic symphonies was Anton Bruckner.
   Anton Bruckner was born in 1924 in Ansfelden near Linz in the family of village teacher. He started school as 6 year old and his first teacher was his father, then he continued education to be an organist. When Anton Bruckner was 13, his father died, so was send to school in Augustinian monastery in Sankt Florian to be a choir boy, and to learn to play organ and violin. And, and from his early years he was an organist and a teacher of village schools. As composer he started career in his twenties, but real progress he made as 30 year old. He showed his Missa Solemnis and was accepted to be a student of famous music theorist Simon Sechter. Twenty years later, in 1974 he started to compose his fourth symphony, finishing first version in 1980. 

Anton Bruckner – Symphony No. 4 (1985)

   Symphony E-flat Major No 4 „Romantic” is probably most popular work by Anton Bruckner. On the list of his symphonies it is certainly the most commonly performed and recorded one. His nine accomplished symphonies are numbered from No. 1 to No 8. There is also an early „student” symphony called „00” and Symphony No. 0 D Minor (Die Nullte) which has been rejected by composer and thus numbered as Zero. Last of his great works, Symphony No. 9 D Minor remained unfinished. Many of his symphonies had different versions, because he was reworking most of his symphonies many times. This lack of clear decision and between concurrent releases was called The Bruckner Problem. One of such works was the Symphony No. 4. It was so frequently edited, with composer’s revisions it was known in seven versions and six versions were separately published. 
   But there was one more version of Bruckner’s Fourth. When Gustav Mahler was preparing in 1895 premiere in Hamburg, he cut some parts and rearranged the symphony by changing orchestration, giving the form and a whole sound more transparent and polyphonic character. And in Mahler manner it really sounds different, yet great in terms of symphonic form. Once more Anton Bruckner appeared as consequent continuator of the traditions of Austro-German Romanticism and talented follower of symphonic ideas derived from Beethoven's works. In 1984 great Russian conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky became the head of newly established ensemble, The USSR Ministry of Culture Orchestra. With this orchestra Gennadi Rozhdestvensky recorded in 1984 complete of Bruckner symphonies, published as a series of albums very next year. He choose Mahler’s version and it is probably the one and only recording of this beautiful version. Two composers presented in this solo work are both great and despite the difference somehow similar. Great version and great rendition both deserve more than four stars.

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