In this week's New Yorker I have a column about Prof. Dr. Anton Bruckner, on the occasion of the Cleveland Orchestra's Bruckner festival at Lincoln Center. The orchestra has DVD recordings of the four symphonies it played in the series: the Fifth, the Seventh, the Eighth (in the 1887 version), and the Ninth. I've heard only the last two; both are recommendable, the first for giving the best account to date of the original version of the symphony, the second for the sustained brilliance of the playing. Off the top of my head, here are a few other favorite Bruckner recordings: the Ninth, with Giulini and the Vienna Philharmonic (DG); the Eighth, with Boulez and the Vienna (DG); Furtwängler's vehement wartime Fifth with the Berlin Philharmonic (Music & Arts); the Fourth, with Jochum and the Berliners (DG); the Sixth, with Klemperer and the New Philharmonia (EMI); Haitink's fine new Chicago recording of the Seventh (Resound); Norrington's bracing, unconventional view of the Third (EMI); and the Mass No. 3, with Herreweghe (Harmonia Mundi). I'm also very fond of Horenstein's late-period live recordings of the Eighth and the Ninth from the BBC. (Horenstein's Vox Ninth was my first record.) When I was younger, I immersed myself in Karajan's Bruckner; for whatever reason, I found those recordings much less satisfying when I recently returned to them. I have yet to find my way into the cult of Celibidache, despite various efforts. As for the various completions of the Ninth, discussed briefly at the end of the column, I'll say more in a future post. For the moment, I can hardly improve on Richard Lehnert's comprehensive coverage of the subject in Stereophile. By the way, you can watch a weird dance piece based on the Ninth finale, although it will not be suitable for the more puritanical American workplaces. Don't worry — the hip-hop heard at the outset is not part of the score.
Coming up shortly: a quick look at Bruckner scholarship.