Tonight is the opening concert of the new season at Staatskapelle Dresden. Christian Thielemann will conduct Max Bruch’s famous violin concerto and Bruckner’s 1st Symphony. We celebrate the event with part one of our ’10 Best’ series of recommended recordings of the latter.
Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 1 in C minor (WAB 101) was the first symphony the composer thought worthy of performing, and bequeathing to the Vienna national library. Chronologically, it comes after the Study Symphony in F minor and before Symphony in D minor (“No. 0”). The first version of the Symphony No. 2 in C minor was completed after the Symphony in D minor.
The Symphony No. 1 was premiered under Bruckner in 1868. It was dedicated to the University of Vienna, after Bruckner was granted an honorary doctorate in 1891.
Bruckner gave it the nickname “das kecke Beserl”, roughly translated as “saucy maid”.
1a. Eugen Jochum with Berliner Philharmoniker (1965)
1b. Eugen Jochum with Staatskapelle Dresden (1978)
2. Gunter Wand with Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester (1981)
3. Wolfgang Sawallisch with Bayerisches Staatsorchester (1984)
4. Sir Georg Solti with Chicago Symphony Orchestra (1995)
5. Stanisław Skrowaczewski with Saarbrücken Radio Symphony Orchestra (1995)
Musikfest Berlin 2017 opens today with Bruckner 8 performed by Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim. You can hear the concert live from Berliner Philharmonie on RBB Klassik Radio here.
It is said of Anton Bruckner that he liked to occupy the seats in opera houses where his view of the stage was blocked by pillars. He allegedly also liked to study piano scores of musical and dramatic works only with the text hidden. Dramatic interest moved him, but only if it took a musical form. Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony could claim to verify these anecdotes. This dramatic musical work fills an entire evening alone. Scenic, pictorial representations are sublimated to a great extent. Wherever they appear, such as very clearly during the scherzo or as the finale begins, the movement is particularly decorative and elaborately refined. The idea and structure of the final section is similar to an opera finale, since all the significant elements of the symphony unite here once again.
1. Carl Schuricht with Wiener Philharmoniker (1963)
2. Eugen Jochum with Staatskapelle Dresden (1976)
3. Günter Wand with NDR-Sinfonieorchester (1987)
4. Sergiu Celibidache with Münchner Philharmoniker (1993)
5. Stanisław Skrowaczewski with Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbruecken (1993)
Here is a very good deal on the Bruckner recordings on CD.
This series is aimed at finding the best recordings of a particular work and our research team try to find lesser known releases that are on par with the most iconic recordings of the work. Thus, there will be less Furtwängler, Kleiber and Karajan than you normally see on this type of recommendation lists. However, we must mention this recording of Bruckner 8 as well:
Herbert von Karajan with Wiener Philharmoniker (1988)