Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Anton Bruckner, Eugen Jochum, Dresden Staatskapelle|
Bruckner: The Complete Symphonies
Here's a welcome box of all Bruckner's numbered symphonies led by a distinguished specialist renowned during his lifetime for his identification with the composer. Neatly laid out with each symphony on a disc of its own (n... more »
Here's a welcome box of all Bruckner's numbered symphonies led by a distinguished specialist renowned during his lifetime for his identification with the composer. Neatly laid out with each symphony on a disc of its own (no annoying midsymphony changeovers) and in top-quality late-1970s sound, this is an irresistible bargain for such superb performances. Jochum's Bruckner was spontaneous-sounding, with generally swift tempos tempered by flexible rhythms and slow movements that squeeze all the juice from this heartfelt music. The Dresden orchestra is a marvelous instrument for these works, with a beefy, warm sound and brass players that can whip up the excitement in the grand climaxes. Individual conductors, whether vintage greats like Furtwängler or more recent Brucknerians such as Wand on RCA and Tintner on Naxos, may equal or better Jochum in individual works, but taken as a complete traversal of these massive scores, Jochum's is second to none. --Dan Davis
Jochum's Fabulous Bruckner
T. Beers | Arlington, Virginia United States | 02/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This set is a wonderful bargain, preserving the second of Jochum's integral recordings of the Bruckner symphonies. On Lp these performances, recorded in Dresden's Lukaskirche in the 1970s, sounded a little diffuse when compared with the Bruckner Jochum recorded for DGG in the '50s and '60s. Digital remastering has brought admirable focus to the EMI analog masters and these recordings now sound as good or better than their DGG counterparts. The performances are quite similar, except that the Dresden Staatskapelle plays with a warmth and tonal lustre that is superior to the Berlin and Munich orchestras featured in the DGG set. In all cases, Jochum is the conductor for those people who enjoy the Schubert in Bruckner: melodic lines are flexibly projected with an inerrant sense of how they should relate to the structural argument. Some might find that Jochum's lyrical approach scants the rigors of Bruckner's architecture, that it's too "soft." They should seek out Klemperer and others. But for most people, Jochum is one of the three or four greatest Bruckner conductors ever and his recordings are, if not the last word on Bruckner interpretation, "must buys." Three things to note. First, throughout his career, Jochum only played the canonical Bruckner symphonies, 1 thru 9; you won't find symphonies "0" and "00" in this set. Second, Bruckner exists in different peforming editions, the most famous being those prepared by scholars Robert Haas (in the 1930s and '40s) and Leopold Nowak (in the 1950s). I should point out that Jochum consistently favored the Nowak editions. (The differences between Haas and Nowak aren't really important except to scholars. But Amazon's description of this set claims that Jochum used the now-discredited Schalk editions. Not true!) Third, setting aside whose edition you play, Bruckner himself prepared various versions of many of his symphonies and these differences matter. Mostly, Jochum plays the Bruckner versions that have come to be regarded as standard. But, in the case of the Third Symphony, Jochum, like most conductors of the old school, plays Bruckner's 1889 (third and final) version. Most conductors today favor Bruckner's second version from 1876-1877. (On Naxos, Bruckner maverick Georg Tintner prefers Bruckner's even more expansive first version from 1873. See my review of the new [2/2002] Naxos 'White Box' collection of all Tintner's Bruckner performances, also available at a budget price!) The 1889 version is the one I grew up with and Jochum's performance is superb; but, like many people, I have come to prefer the more expansively argued 1876/1877 version. OK, back to the set. Sound quality is fine throughout, and the price is fantastic. And about the packaging. Bravo, EMI, for ending the lunacy of gigantic boxes of jewel trays that look ugly and take up half a foot or more on your shelf! This soft box format is slim and elegant. The individual CDs are held safe and snug in rigid cardboard envelopes, and the box itself is nice to look at and plenty sturdy. In other words, unless you use your CD boxes as hockey pucks, I don't see any reason to believe that the packaging won't last longer than you do. But hey, if you really need to own those old, clunky, plastic jewel boxes and multiples, look elsewhere. If you're interested in the music, this set is a fabulous bargain!"
A good, but not great, Bruckner cycle.
Into | everywhereandnowhere | 02/17/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Ideally, I wanted to review the DG Jochum cycle, since I actually prefer that one, but it's NLA as of this posting, so I'll just make some comments about both cycles here.
Eugen Jochum may have been the greatest advocate of Bruckner, of the 20th Century. However, I have lived with this cycle, and especially the DG one, for many years now, and I have come to view his Bruckner interpretations as somewhat overrated, even in comparison with his "old school Bruckner" colleagues. Perhaps my opinion is a little skewed by overexposure, but I have other recordings I turn to more frequently that have not started to "wear" on me as much as some of Jochums. For one example, I am not, by any means, a "Karajan freak" (I have also come to view his last VPO Eighth, over which most people seem to be "ga ga," a bit overrated, as well) but I find his full DG cycle from the 70's and early 80's, for one, to be more consistently satisfying, with the exception of the first, fourth, and sixth, in all of which Jochum is clearly better, imo. I must say I do get tired of the cliches' about Karajan's performances being too "cool, polished, and sterile," and Haitink's being too "light," etc. These preconceptions, often based on preconcieved opinions about the conductors themselves, precludes people from really having to seriously consider their recordings, just as the opposite preconception that Jochum is THE Brucknerian of the century tends to make his recorded preformances somehow beyond reproach.
Based on Jochum's reputation, I eagerly awaited the DG cycle, back at a time in the late 80's when I was first getting into Bruckner when there were relatively few Bruckner recordings in print. Even on first listening, there were certain things about his interpretations that didn't sound right to me. Admittedly, at that time, I knew virtually nothing of the "old school," with its more flexible tempi, dynamics, and more dramatic approach, to Bruckner. Since then, I have become very well acquainted with recordings of the "old school" Bruckner conductors such as Schuricht (his 1943 Ninth is one of my ten favorites), Furtwangler (his 1944 Ninth might BE my favorite), Hausegger, Kabasta, Abendroth, Matacic; Walter and Horenstein's mono recordings, etc. etc...and I still don't find many of Jochum's interpretations to compare all that favorably.
One thing you can say with some degree of confidence about Jochum is that most of his interpretations are amazingly consistent over a half century of recordings. Compare his recordings of the Fourth and Seventh from the late 1930's to those from his later DG and EMI cycles, and they are remarkably similar, both in terms of timings, tempos, and phrasing. Two examples of "Jochumisms" that have come to grate on me a bit over time are: 1) As much as I love most of his Fourth, esp. the finale, which I think he "nails" better than any other conductor, I feel that he turns the andante quasi allegretto into an adagio (in general, I can never understand why many conductors insist upon turning this flowing movement into a dirge); 2) The slow tempo he chooses for the lovely "enchanted forest" motif (as I call it) that flows out of the beautiful intro of the Seventh, which ultimately steers the whole first movement toward a slow and stodgy tempo. Jochum's Seventh almost sounds like it starts out with two adagios. His first movement isn't excessively slow in terms of it's total timing (and I've noticed that many listeners pay too much attention to timings anyway), but in terms of it's lack of flexibility and flow: there are readings of this movement a minute of two longer (like Chailly, for example, although I think his Seventh is a bit overrated) that still have a better sense of ebb and flow to them. Some examples of sevenths I prefer to Jochum's are Sinopoli's; Karajan 70's DG; Inbal's; Wand's 70's Cologne recording; Furtwangler's 1951 BPO (Rome); Abendroth's 1956 recording; and Haitink's 70's recording.
Jochum's Fifth was one of the biggest disappointments of my Bruckner collection, esp. after all of the things I had heard about it's legendary status. Although I think his inner movements are just fine (except the slow movement of his 1938 Fifth, which I found a little too slow), I think he is too slow--and even more importantly not flexible enough--in the all important outer movements. But the "Jochumism" that grates on me the most, in ALL of his recordings, is his excessive stretching out of the coda of the finale, made even less convincing by the lack of a strong underpinning of timpani. Karajan (whose DG Fifth was my first, and is still my favorite, followed by Horenstein, Welser-Most, and Gielen) augmented this thrilling coda--Bruckner's best, even better than the Eighth's, if it's done properly--with an extra set of timpani, and very effectively. If any of you are rolling your eyes (esp. you "Karajan-bashers") at Karajan's use of extra timpani, remember that Jocum augmented the brass section for the famous chorale of the Fifth's finale...this is part of what the vanishing art of interpretation is all about. On the subject of timpani, one of the characteristics of the Bruckner "old school" was the ideal that the Bruckner orchestra started from the ground (bass) up, and needed a strong underpinning of timpani (too often missing in recent recordings), esp. in climactic moments: Furtwangler's recordings provided the best example of this; most of Jochum's recordings are surprisingly lacking in powerful timpani, and this is particularly exposed in his somewhat melodramatic lengthening of the Fifth's final coda.
In general, I find Jochum's Eighth and Ninth to be a bit terse, except for his readings of the third movement of the Ninth, which was consistently one of his best movements, esp. his Dresden recording. If his readings of 1-7--except, again, his 1,4, and 6, which I find generally excellent--tended to lack flexibility on the slow side, the outer movements of his Eighth and the first movement of his Ninths tended to lack flexibility on the fast side. One very notable exception, however, is his 1949 Hamburg Eighth, which is my very favorite Jochum recording, and perhaps one of my ten favorite Eighths overall. He gets everything right here, with a good amount of flexibility...which makes it even more puzzling to me that the outer movements of his later recordings of the Eighth were so terse by comparison.
As far as the merits of the DG cycle versus the EMI, again, there is very little to choose as far as interpretations: they are remarkably similar. The only difference that really jumped out at me was that the first movement of the Dresden Ninth was not only a little too terse, but strangely "herky jerky" in terms of some awkward tempo relations, which create more distraction than tension. Although I feel that the adagio of the Dresden Ninth is Jochum's most searching account of this movement, I still like the Ninth from the DG set a bit better.
In terms of recorded sound, again I'd have to give the nod to the DG cycle. The older DG recordings sound more natural to me, whereas the late analog EMI recordings are a bit too brightly lit, almost sounding like early digital in places. The seemingly endless permutations of packaging, repackaging, and recoupling of both of these cycles, and the individual recordings from them, has become a bit absurd, but at least it has made it very easy to pick up most of these recordings in used CD bins."
The best edition of this set yet before the public
Howard G Brown | Port St. Lucie, FL USA | 07/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have heard these recordings on both Angel and EMI lps, on the first cd boxed set issue, on the more recent "twofer" issues (3 and 7, for example) and on Seraphim cd (4 and 9). This new compilation has by far the best sound. This is absolutely beautiful Bruckner, and I don't know how the riches of these recordings eluded the engineers till now.I just finished listening to symphonies 1 through 3 and the warmth and balance of the sections of the Dresden orchestra remind me of Dutch painting from the 17th century. Everything glows, and seemingly glows from within! The sheer weight of the sound at the end of the Second Symphony first movement amazed me, and that is just one example.I'm not sure if these were all originally analog recordings or part analog, part digital as in the von Karajan DG set. Frankly, I don't care. I'm just glad they got it right this time!"