Berky, John: A Rationale for the Brucknerathon Selections

Berky, John: A Rationale for the Brucknerathon Selections
2009 Brucknerathon Performances " An Explanation of the Choices"

Several factors went into the selection of the performances for the 2009 Brucknerathon. Given that there are over 3,600 recordings available from the archive, I felt that it may assist those attending to understand my rationale for selection. Instead of providing an overarching rationale, I will explain it for each individual selection.

Symphony in F Minor

About 50 miles off the coast of South Korea, there is the Island of Jeju.. The island itself is just 50 miles long and is best known as an international resort and convention center. One wouldn't normally link the Island of Jeju with Anton Bruckner, but the Jeju Philharmonic with conductor Dong-Ho Lee have completed a transversal of the eleven Bruckner symphonies and most have been recorded on CD and DVD. We will pay tribute to this adventurous ensemble by listening to their performance of the Symphony in F Minor

Symphony # 1 in C Minor

Taking advantage of William Carragan's attendance at this Brucknerathon, I have chosen the Georg Tintner performance on Naxos. To date this is the only recording that incorporates Bill's edition that given us the symphony as it was heard at its 1866 premiere.

Symphony in D Minor "Die Nullte"

Keeping the proper chronology, we will present the D Minor Symphony after the Symphony # 1. I have chosen to perform the Gennadi Rozhdestvensky performance. I wanted to acknowledge Rozhdestvensky's contributions to the Bruckner discography. His cycle of recordings for Melodiya with the USSR Ministry of Culture Orchestra is one of the most complete, with two versions of the Symphony # 1, three versions of the Symphony # 3 plus the "Second Adagio," and three versions of the Symphony # 4 (he included the Mahler orchestration) including the "Volkfest" Finale. He also provided the early Samale, Muzzuca Finale to the Symphony # 9. One wonders if the political turmoil of the time may have prevented a recording of the 1887 Bruckner 8th. It is a glaring omission to an otherwise extraordinarily complete cycle.

Symphony # 2 in C Minor

Again taking advantage of William Carragan's presence, I have chosen to present Bill's recently published 1872 first concept edition. In recent years, this edition has received a number of accomplished performances - most notiby by Simone Young and Riccardo Chailly. But in my opinion, the conductor who has done the most with this edition is Herbert Blomstedt. We are fortunate to have one of his first performances of this edition which he gave with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in October of 2007.

Symphony # 3 in D Minor

Through the generosity of Delta Records in Japan, we will have the first hearing outside of Japan of William Carragan's edition of the Symphony # 3 as it existed in manuscript in 1874. The edition received its premiere in November of 2007 with Akira Naito conducting the Tokyo New City Orchestra. Unfortunately, there was an error in playing during the single performance and the rehearsal recording was damaged. This error has delayed the publication of this CD, but we will be hearing the recording prior to its (hopefully) eventual release.

Symphony # 4 in E Flat

With Benjamin Korstvedt in attendance, it was a easy choice to present his recently published edition of the Symphony # 4. This edition essentially follows the first printed publication of 1888 which Ben has convincingly argued was published with the direct involvement of the composer.
The first recording of this performance was made by Akira Naito and the aforementioned Tokyo New City Orchestra. A new BIS recording is due out soon with Osmo Vanska leading the Minnesota Orchestra. For our purposes, I have dug into the archive and retrieved the 2006 Edinburgh Festival performance by Stephane Deneve and the Scottish National Orchestra which was one of the first performances of this new edition.

Symphony # 5 in B Flat

This one will go to the voters. Participants will vote on which to hear. I was encouraged to add a vintage recording to my selection. I chose the Eduard van Beinum / Concertgebouw recording in a special CD edition that provides one of the most successful "enhancements to stereo" that I have ever heard. I have also been lobbied to present the Heinz Roegner / Berlin Symphony Orchestra performance which, I must admit, is a stirring rendition.

Symphony # 6 in A Major

Recent research has shown that Bruckner had more of a hand in the preparation of his published editions that some would have wished us to believe. This holds true for the Symphony # 6 and a new stereo recording has just been issued that shows how effective the Hynais edition can be in performance. Ira Levin conducts the Norrlands Opera Orchestra.

Symphony # 7 in E Major

My co-host for this Brucknerathon, Ken Jacobson has a wonderful stereo system and a comfortable listening room. He also has a drop-down screen and a projector TV so it seems that as the skies darken that we should take advantage of this nifty technology, so we switch to DVD.
I have chosen one of Eugen Jochum's last performances which he gave in Tokyo with the Concertgebouw Orchestra in 1986.

Symphony # 8 in C Minor

In Japan, a country with a strong Brucknerian following, the conductor Takashi Asahia takes on an almost godlike stature. His recordings are abundant in Japanese stores but rarely seen here. Asahina recorded the Bruckner cycle three times and late in his career, his performances were being filmed for DVD release. We will watch one of these performances with the Osaka Philharmonic, an orchestra which he founded and was associated with during his very long career.

Symphony # 9 in D Minor

I have been asked to present the recent Sony recording by Fabio Luisi and the Dresden Staatskapelle. This is an SACD and it should present some great listening on Ken's system.
For the Finale, we take advantage once again of William Carragan's attendance and present his revised performing edition as recorded by Akira Naito and the Tokyo New City Orchestra.

John F. Berky
July 8, 2009