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Looking for a relaxing Bruckner set? Steer clear of this one!,
This review is from: Bruckner: 9 Symphonies (Audio CD)
Perhaps you've noticed that this set has received an exorbitant amount of fame, with many reviewers pointing to this as the definitive set of the Bruckner symphonies. Karajan, we're told, has worked wonders with his Berliners, making for an amazing musical experience.
But I want you to know that this is a terrible set to acquire if you want your Bruckner to be a pleasantry. Perhaps you want to hear the composer interpreted in a matter-of-fact way, eschewing anything that would threaten to grip you or move you too deeply. Karajan cares nothing for the relaxation of his listeners, and he seems to pride himself in his monumental approach to the symphonies. He is taking us to grand heights, soaring above the practicality of life. For this reason, it wouldn't make good background music. It would be too disturbing and moving to listen to this music without giving it your full attention.
Maybe I've scared you away, but I hope and think not. Who ever said that the chief concern in Bruckner is pleasantness? Karajan refuses to let himself be constrained, and his vision in these symphonies is staggering. He is a magnificent master of building the music, preparing us for the impassioned climactic moments without letting go too soon. It would be easy to get lost in the vast scope of things, resulting in chaos. But with Karajan on the podium, never fear. He has a strong grip over his orchestra and everything is done with control, yet vitality is still present. This is not impersonal Bruckner; this is simply Bruckner that is speaking of things that aren't in our reach. The music transports us out of this world, into the skies, if not into heaven itself.
This is what gives this set its almost mysterious nature. Penning a review of this set is no easy task, simply because this is the kind of music that I find to be almost sacred, making it difficult to jot my thoughts down on paper. I'll simply say that it has been a rewarding experience for me to listen to this music, leaving me inspired on every page.
If you're wondering if I think Karajan's way with Bruckner is the only way, I'll be quick to say no. There are certainly other ways one could look at these symphonies, perhaps in a less bombastic way that would spend more time delving into the intricacies of the individual moments. But I don't think anyone is ever going to give us Bruckner that will make us forget Karajan, so glorious is his vision. I don't hesitate to recommend this to all music lovers alike--unless you are wary of the unearthly, of course.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Dec 2011 12:32:14 GMT
Interesting perspective, nice review. Tell us a bit more about the 'climatic moments' that Karajan is preparing us for. Has it something to do with climate change?
In reply to an earlier post on 2 Mar 2012 22:32:18 GMT
Andrew R. Barnard says:
Sorry, a typo. I meant "climactic".
Posted on 6 Sep 2013 11:37:49 BDT
Gps Rogers says:
I have just got this set after building slowly through the recommendations and getting Furtwangler (quirky) Jochum (detailed meandering) and Wand (urgent, needs a climax to work to) Tennstedt and Lobos.
I started with the 4th and its a different piece. Within seconds I was in freefall without a net. Its sublime and terrifying its pulse and focus is different. I cant wait to hear the others......
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