The small cardboard box, with lid which opens sideways is tough. The Brilliant box sets I own always are. The picture on the front of the box, is I think the ceiling of the church where Bruckner (1824-1896) is buried. On the back of the box, are the CD number and symphonies in yellow orchre, plus in white at the bottom, who is conducting. The back ground is in dark orange. The cardboard sleeve details are exactly like the box, but with CD numbers on the back, with track numbers and times. When retrieving the CDs from the CD you will not scratch them. The CD is white with the composer's name and orchestra in dark orange, plus CD number. For example, the Brilliant Faure edition has a orange cover and white CDs, with words in light orange. This shows you, how much trouble Brilliant goes to, when producing their box sets. Sound, Compact Disc digital audio, ADD. I suggest the CDs have been remastered, but there is no proof of this fact. The booklet gives you details about the conductors, the symphonies and Bruckner himself. What I like about this booklet, is the company does not assume you have any knowledge about Bruckner's life.
I own the Von Karajan,Jochum and Tintner Bruchner Box sets. Klemperer Live, 4th (1954), 7th ( 1958) and 8th (1957). Knappertsbusch 8th. Furtwanglers 6th and 8th symphonies, recorded live in the 2nd World War, plus Walter's 4th, 7th and 9th symphonies. Even Inbal's recording of the original first score of the 3rd and 4th Symphonies. Therefore, I am attuned to the Bruckner sound.
I would have much prefered to have all 9 symphonies recorded by Rogner, but who has heard of him, I have not. So it was decided to put recordings of Neumann No 1, which is the composers most original symphony. Konwitschny No 2 and Sanderling No 3, along side Rogner's 4- 9 symphonies. What the four conductors have in common apart from the East German connection, is that there is an emotional pulse, throughout all nine Bruckner symphonies. Sanderling's 3rd is passionate and that is all one requires from a conductor of the composer's symphonies. If Sanderling has recorded the entire set of Bruckner symphonies, I would snap them up. Neumann relishes the No 1, for the 4th movement is extremely swift. However, you can see in Konwitschny conducting of the symphony No 2, the principles that guided Rogner, for he was taught by that master conductor.
Bruckner speaks to us through his music, for in that he knew what he was doing. But in life he was naive and had many problems. His original scores he placed in the National libary in Vienna, "for future times." Bruckner was God struck, for through his music, he speaks of this, as for his love of the upper Austrian countryside and his mother. He was a professional organist who played in London, Paris and Nancy. So within these large works, you can hear the orchestra sounding like a large organ. Rogner could play the organ on a professional level, so you can hear the flowing transitions and pedal effects in the orchestra, which would not have been achieved without him being able to play the organ. His tempi are fast, which brings out the sheer emotion, but down plays the spirituality, and shows us the Human face of Bruckner. Even so, you can still hear the organlike music of the orchestra with its clear textures. Rogner shows us there is another way to conduct Bruckner, instead of slow. However, to understand the organ effect, hear J.S Bach's Toccata & Fugue in D minor a work for the organ.
I would say the adagio of the 7th Symphony, as conducted by Heinz Rogner, his orchestra, the Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin, is beautful and heart felt. But Klemperer in the 8th symphony ( live) is the only conductor of the CDs I own of that work, who captures the Adagio perfectly. I thought I would compare Rogner's times in the BRUCKNER 5th, with that of Jochum, conducting the Staatskapelle Dresden. He played the organ and treated Bruckner's symphony as though it were one. Rogner 1st Mov 19.40. 2nd Mov 14.41. 3rd Mov 13.48. 4th Mov 20.02. Jochum Bruckner 5th. 1st Mov 21.26. 2nd Mov 19.16. 3rd Mov 13.04. 4th Mov 23.42.
BRUCKNER'S 8th symphony. Rogner 1st Mov 12.33. 2nd 13.18. 3rd Mov 26.21. 4th Mov 22.47. Klemperer (live 1957) 1st Mov 14.19. 2nd Mov 14.28. 3rd Mov 22.37. 4th Mov 20.38. Furtwangler ( live Wien 1944). 1st Mov 15.09. 2nd Mov 14.05. 3rd Mov 25.08. 4th Mov 22.17. Jochum 1st Mov 13.55. 2nd Mov 14.00. 3rd Mov 27.24. 4th Mov 20.46.
CD 1 1965. Sym No 1 Linz version, ed. Haas. CD 2.Sym 2 (Live) 1951. 1877 version, ed. Haas. CD 3.Sym 3 1963.1890 version, ed Raettig- a new version. CD 4.Sym 4 1983 & 1984. 1886 version, ed. Nowak. CD 5.Sym 5 1983 & 1984. ed. Nowak. CD 6. Sym 6 1980. ed.Nowak. CD 7. Sym 7 1983. ed.Haas.CD 8 Sym 8 1985 1987/90 version, ed.Haas. CD 9.Sym 9 1983. Ed Nowak.
Bruckner rewrote his symphonies, but so did his pupils, Franz and Josef Schalk, also, the conductors Loewe and Nikisch, to help their friend. They attempted to make these huge scores acceptable to the public; changing parts of the scores, even without the composers permission. Bruckner consistently revised his works 1-4 symphonies. As a result, we have several versions. Sometimes the later editions are improvements, as with the 4th symphony, but sometimes the first version is superior as with the 2nd and 3rd symphony. The problem was that Bruckner suffered from self-doubt and felt inferior to those surrounding him. He felt they must know better. He was no Wagner, or Beethoven his idols, who had great self confidence. But as I have already stated, in his music he had a vision and stuck to it.
The 8th symphony will give you an idea of the type of problems I have mentioned. In 1887 the composer had completed the score to his satisfaction. Hermann Levi who led the World premiere of Parsival, and had become a strong advocate for the 7th symphony, rejected the 8th symphony and would not conduct it. With his pupil Josef Schalk, Bruckner made many cuts and additional changes. Two years later, Bruckner agreed to more revisions in line with the audience expectations and trends of the time. The premiere was given in 1892 with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Hans Richter.
In the 1930's, Robert Haas, as editor of the Complete Bruckner Edition, chose to combine details from Bruckner's original 1887 score with amendments made for the 1890 version that Bruckner had created following Levi's rejection of the work. The resulting score included not only revisions that Bruckner had made, but also restored many cuts from the earlier score. Published in 1935, this score was performed in 1939. Leopold Nowak succeeded Haas as chief editor for the International Bruckner society after World war 2. He felt that Haas's score was wrong, because Bruckner had not seen or sanctioned it. Nowak, in turn, created two different versions of the 8th Symphony. He felt strongly that the 1890's score was correct, because of the thoughtful revisions. However, for Nowak's second edition, the editor chose to create the work as closely as possible to Bruckner's original thinking in 1887, before Levi rejected it.The version was first performed in 1954, and not frequently performed after the publication in 1972. However, Tintner suggests that Haas's is the best of three versions. But the original 1887 symphony shows an almost primitive spontaneity.
The 3rd symphony written in 1873 is another example. For after the first performance in 1877 it was a failure. Bruckner revised it in 1878 and then again in 1888-89. Thus, there are three different versions in all, even Franz Schalk got involved changing parts which the composer agreed to. Loewe changed parts of the 4th without the composers approval. The 5th for many years was performed in a version by Franz Schalk that severely truncated its Finale and did so without Bruckner's approval. However, when changes were made that do have the composer's agreement,it is not always possible to determine which were made against his better judgement and which of the two alternative procedures he would prefer. This gives you an understanding of the problems that Bruckner's symphonies do pose. Added to that, there are now newer editions then the Nowak. Those familar with Bruckner are aware of all these problems and watch out for what score is being used. So those Haas and Nowak scores used in this new Bruckner set,are often used today.
To conclude this review, I shall give you some information about the conductors. Valclav Neumann 1920-1995, was born in Prague. He became conductor of the Leipzig Gewandhaus until 1969. He became principal conductor of the Czech Phil, a post he held until 1990. Franz Konwitschny 1901-1962. Played the Viola in the Leipzig Gewandhaus orchestra under Wilhelm Furtwangler. He became a conductor, joining the Stuttgart opera in 1927. From 1949 until his death he was principal conductor of the Gewandhaus orchestra. From 1955 onwards he led the Berlin State opera. Like Furtwangler, Konwitschny used expensive gestures and had a dislike of an exact beat. Recordings: Flying Dutchman. Schech, Schock, Fischer-Dieskau and Wunderlich, Staatskapelle,Berlin. 1960. Tannhauser Hopf, Frick, Fischer-Dieskau, Grummer, Staatskapelle, Berlin.
Kurt Sanderling 1912-2011. He was a rehearsal director for Furtwangler and Kleiber at the Deutsche Oper, Berlin. This was cut short, when the Nazi regime removed him from his post because he was Jewish. He left for the Soviet Union in 1936 where he worked with the Moscow Radio sym orch. From 1942-1950 he was joint principal conductor with Yegeny Mravinsky of the Leningrad Phil. He grew very close to Shostakovich. He was very well liked and got good results from lesser orchestras. He returned to East Germany where he led the Berlin Sym Orch and Dresden Staatskapelle. Sanderling made his British debut in 1970. He was associated with the Philharmonia orch in London 1980. In 2002 he was awarded the CBE. He made complete recordings of the Beethoven Symphonies with the Philharmonia.
Heinz Rogner 1929-2001. From 1947- 1951 he was Kapellmeister of the German National theatre and Staatskapelle Weimar.However, from 1958- 1962 Rogner was Chief conductor of the Leipzig Radio orchestra, 1953- 1993, he was chief conductor of the Berlin Radio symphony orchestra. He was unpretentious and modest,he always evaded questions from Journalists who wanted to get him to talk about his personal life, but he steered questions to music. Thus, when the fall of the Berlin wall happened, he was not news worthy. He was not a star in the classical World. Not a way to get noticed, which is a shame, because his conducting of Bruckner is marvellous. His later development as a Bruckner conductor, stemmed from a relationship with Franz Konwitschny, who performed original versions of Bruckner symphonies.
REFERENCES: Bacharach,A & Pearce J. The Musical Companion 1977. Victor Gollancz. London. Bruckner: Symphony No 8 article, Franz Welser-Most.2010. Arthaus Musik. Tintner G. Bruckner. Naxos. Wikipedia.