lietofinelondon

Bruckner and Me.

In Classical Music, Review on April 26, 2016 at 6:34 pm

I’m hoping that everyone has a composer that, when they see his music listed in concerts, thinks “Hmmm, perhaps not”.

For me, it’s Anton Bruckner. Or at least his symphonies. I grew up singing his choral music as a choirboy but his orchesrtal music remains almost impenetrable to me. I’ve been to concerts of his symphones, bought recordings and entire box sets. And in the past, sat down – sometimes with score in hand and sometimes just sitting back – and listened.

To date, to no avail.

However, not one to be defeated and because I love the fact that the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment refused to be pigeon-holed in the Eighteenth century, I went to their recent Bruckner, Brahms and Rott concert.

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A major is perhaps not his most oft performed and that was another reason for going. The theory that the ‘more unknown’ might be an advantage. I am acquainted with the more famous symphones – the Fourth, Eighth and Ninth for example – but perhaps tackling a lesser known one would help.

First of all, the OAE under Rattle played exquisitely. There was, it seemed to me a greater level transparency with the orchesrtal detail truly shining through without any loss of depth or weight. As ever, the OAE’s wind and brass brought their unique vibrancy and piquancy o the music and there was real lustre to the string tone, especially in the magically hushed Adagio. It was like one continuus love song – the highlight of the evening.

Rattle exercised complete authority as you would expect, coaxing a range of colours from the orchestra and maintaining a firm grip on the scale and architecture of each movement. And conducting without a score there was an intimacy to his performance that pulled you in.

So what was it, that by the end of the evening, had me thinking that while it was a good – if not excellent concert – I was still left slightly at odds Bruckner?

The playing was excellent. Rattle’s mastery beyond doubt. So that only leaves Bruckner’s music itself.

Thinking back perhaps I was listening too hard?

And that had me thinking. A very good friend who sadly passed away a few years back observed that with age, musical appreciation changes. Because of life experience. Music that you once didn’t cherish becomes more important. More relevant. You stop listening to the notes and something in the music resonates with you as a person. Your emotions, memories and, as he pointed out to me, what is happening in that instant in your life affect how you listen and what you are listening for.

It’s a no-brainer really. It’s surely like everything else in life. To my friend’s knowledge and insight of Mahler, plus his patience in me, I attribute my now unassailable love of everything that Mahler composed. And now, whenever I hear Mahler, and especially his Tenth Symphony, I remember and miss my friend.

So perhaps that is what I need. More age, time and experiences.

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  1. its obvious – mahler is easy, bruckner not. mahler is zeitgeist, bruckner ewigkeit.

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