Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
The greatest Bruckner 6th ever recorded
Eric Zuesse | USA | 03/22/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This granitic performance tops Karajan, Sawallisch, Swoboda, Skrowaczewski, and all the lesser performances, in every way: steadier pulse, more orchestral clarity, and sublime monumentality. It is calm from first note to last (and calmness is essential in conducting Bruckner), and intensely engages the listener with exquisitely quiet pianissimi and shattering climaxes. This recording is a must for any Bruckner collection.
The 6th is Bruckner's Alpine symphony, not just because he travelled through the Alps while composing it, but because that shows in the music, especially in the first movement, which is like a trek through a snow-covered Alpine forest. All of Bruckner's symphonies are under-rated, but especially the 6th, which is quite possibly his greatest except for #'s 8&9, both of which are generally regarded as his supreme achievements. Though Bruckner never wrote intentionally programmatic music, the 6th conveys just as much the beauty of the Alps as does Strauss's Alpine Symphony, but more of nature itself than of any human or narrative account of an encounter with nature. There is no human here. However, although this is abstract music, there is nothing abstract about its themes or "melodies," which are among the most haunting that Bruckner or anyone ever wrote.
If this performance were ever to become widely available and honored, as it deserves, then perhaps the utterly unjustifiable inattention this work has received would be replaced by widespread recognition that, other than the 9th and 8th, there is no greater Bruckner symphony. That's saying a lot, because, with the possible exception of his student f (or "00") Symphony, all 11 (00, 0, and 1-9) are not just masterpieces, but are major masterpieces. No symphonist was as consistently super-great as Bruckner, and the 6th ranks right near his top.
Since this is clearly the greatest performance of a very great work, I cannot recommend it highly enough. The sound quality is okay. The orchestra is superb. And the conductor, Bongartz, was one of the greatest ever, but never so great as in this, the only Bruckner recording he ever made. Perhaps he was born to conduct Bruckner, and this was the only opportunity he had to record it."
Bongartz's excellent Bruckner
David Mayer | St. Louis, Missouri | 08/09/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Simpson, in "The Essence of Bruckner," observed that listeners often hear a haphazardly conducted Bruckner 6th and dismiss the piece as a lesser work. This was once my fate! Years ago I had listened to several recordings of the Sixth, been enthralled by none, and written off the piece as inconsistent.
Those recordings shared one or more of the following problems: metronomic conducting, inappropriately fast tempos in the 2nd & 4th movements, poorly prepared transitions, and (subjectively) a lack of soul. Bruckner was writing music for God, not marching bands.
After a few years in the wilderness, I returned to this work hoping for something more. Jeffrey Lipscomb's strong recommendation led me to Bongartz, a conductor who I admire but had never heard in Bruckner (in fact, this is his only Bruckner recording). I was blown away. Here was the best case I had ever heard for the Sixth as not just a great work, but perhaps as great as Bruckner's later masterpieces. Although each movement is treated with the greatest sympathy, I would like to focus on Bongartz's handling of the second movement Adagio.
This is the most emotionally powerful Adagio I have ever heard. It displaces Furtwängler's and Celibidache's and obliterates all others that I've heard. Tempos are ineffably right: the slow opening allows the oboe to transform from an orchestral instrument into a human voice uttering a wordless message of grief. I can't explain in words how heartbreaking this theme is - it feels like the musical equivalent of a loved one saying his or her final goodbye (maybe I've formed this association because of a similarly moving and roughly contemporaneous piece of music, Wotan's Farewell to Brünnhilde at the end of Die Walküre). Like a loved one's farewell, this Adagio isn't unrelentingly anguished; there are interspersed touches of fondness and even hopefulness. The movement's serene ending in F Major is emotionally honest and completely avoids the mawkishness of second-rate composers.
As amazing as Bongartz's second movement is, I could not recommend this recording so highly if his inspiration flagged in the other movements. My second favorite recording, Furtwängler's 1943 "headless torso," is undermined by a very exciting but too fast Finale (I have similar reservations about his 1942 recording of Beethoven's 9th). I am happy to report that Bongartz keeps a consistently high level of execution and interpretation. Since my inauspicious introduction to this work, I've heard over a dozen recordings. This one is the best, and I recommend it unreservedly.
At the time of writing, this symphony is unavailable on Amazon except through a 8-CD set (Legendary Masterworks Recordings [Box Set]) that is selling for $47. However, through Amazon's MP3 Downloads store, files of this Bruckner 6th are selling for less than $1 per track! Unless you have insurmountable objections to collecting music digitally, this is an obvious bargain."