in: Reviews

January 16, 2015

BSO’s Elixir for the Soul


Lars Vogt offered his own cadenzas, angles and experiences in the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 24 in C Minor. Preceding Bruckner’s Symphony No.7, Andris Nelsons’ spontaneous remarks about clock watching in the hour-long plus work drew pleased response from a nearly filled Symphony Hall. Overall, Thursday evening’s concert was a must-hear, yet not everything cracked musical sound barriers.

With the oft-played Mozart, expectations can run high. Will we be taken into the composer’s stratosphere, the performer’s imagination, or elsewhere? Having made his BSO debut in 2004 at Tanglewood, German-born Lars Vogt has performed there since and has made two previous appearances on the Symphony Hall stage. The 45-year-old pianist, conductor and teacher may have found answers to recreating Mozart’s 24th through such a multifaceted involvement.

Perhaps to no surprise, then, his Mozart showed eclecticism. Midway through the first movement, Vogt raised hairs by producing a very gnarly cadence, the pianist, himself, looking as though lightning had struck in the stormy music. His light-fingered playing in the Largo had breathing on hold.

Adding to the continually growing list of cadenzas for the outer movements, Vogt smartly referenced Mozart as he alternately parted ways. Placing the lyrical second theme in the midst of fire, as he did, made magic. So did his placing the trill that signals the end of the cadenza in the left hand leaving the right hand to suggest, ghostlike, the main orchestral theme.

The Largo was the outstanding movement, utterly endearing. The ways of Mozart, Vogt, Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra would unify in a collaborative effort openly rich with personalities. Eschewing the baton, Nelsons’ hands maneuvered winds into utterly adoring playfulness. Leaning toward the orchestra seemingly as a fellow listener, Vogt would again and again reverse his role in Mozart’s calls and answers, each time delicately shifting emphases in the recurring dialogues.    

Hearing the horn prominently displayed in the forte restatement of the symphony’s opening theme was yet another moment in a performance marked with many such that alternated with the more usual and more expected. Interestingly, there was no encore.

Nelsons improvised an introduction to Anton Bruckner Symphony No. 7 in E Major, which began by pointing to his wristwatch. Given the length of the symphony, would we be checking the time? When he was five years old, he told us, he discovered Wagner in a life-changing experience. It was not surprising, then, that Nelsons’ very first encounter with Bruckner’s music would lead to an ever-deepening admiration and love for the late Romantic German, devout Catholic, and great symphonist.

His music is “medicine for my soul…for peace…for getting closer to God.” Turning to face the players, he went on to say that the orchestra was “infected” with this music and that hopefully we, too, would be infected.

The Nelsons-BSO 71-minute performance approximated those timings of most other major symphony orchestras. The way he remained statuesque with outstretched arms pointing upward for moments on end told much of the story of the humongous symphony’s opening. Coming out of nowhere, the first and last climax exalted the barely audible tremolos of the opening; the ensuing hopeful sweeps invoked the grandest human emotions.

In the half-hour Adagio (Very solemn and very slow), the BSO strings’ gut-wrenching places would be offset by the winds’ capriciousness, even whirlwind dizzying phrases. Light, tender Mahler-like “waltzing” summoned by the orchestra would be countered by the solemn brass that reached breathtaking depths. All this culminated in a feeling of just barely able to comprehend life’s different forces.

Nelsons and Vogt (Dominick Reuter photo)

Nelsons and Vogt (Dominick Reuter photo)

Best known, the unforgettable Scherzo with its trumpet call and surge-upon-surge layout was less than thrilling. One of a number of signatures of the symphony, the trumpet call, became distracting on account of the unevenness in the delivery, particularly of the two repeated notes, which were not clean, pure tones as the first and most of the remaining.

After the ruminations of the Adagio, Bruckner’s Scherzo argues for awakenings as opposed to affirmations, which is where Nelsons led the orchestra. The surging score was not realized because of its in-the-moment, over-powering interpretation.

When the winds first burbled away at the rollicking figure that would eventually spin the final movement into a monolithic close, there was no looking back. The BSO, at once surging and building, gloriously proclaimed Bruckner’s final word on faith and life on earth.

A five-minute ovation continued as Maestro Nelsons, in no hurry, waved soloists one by one and then entire sections to stand.

David Patterson, Professor of Music and former chairman of the Performing Arts Department at UMass Boston, was recipient of a Fulbright Scholar Award and the Chancellor’s Distinction in Teaching Award. He studied with Nadia Boulanger and Olivier Messiaen in Paris and holds a PhD from Harvard University. He is the author of  20 Little Piano Pieces from Around the World (G. Schirmer).


  1. With all due respect to Mr. Patterson, I had a completely different experience at this concert (Thursday night). I greatly disliked the Mozart, and I thought that the Bruckner was overall a miss. While the Mozart didn’t matter to me one way or another (and for me, it didn’t work), I had come for the Bruckner and was greatly disappointed by it. In the last decade plus we have been lucky to hear two truly great performances of Bruckner’s 7th, from Bernard Haitink and Hans Graf. This was not in their league unfortunately.

    On the plus side, Nelsons clearly loves Bruckner’s music and he’s made it clear that we will be hearing much more of it (thankfully!). To these ears, it felt like he was inside the music and truly respected it. That matters a lot, because I’ve heard performances where it seemed that the conductor was not truly inside the music (or didn’t get it) or treated it as if he were a co-composer. Not with Nelsons.

    The problem with Nelsons’ performance was his tendency to disrupt sections within movements of the symphony with distracting and unnecessary tempo shifts. He seemed to micro-manage too much and it only detracted. His gear shifts had the effect of disrupting the momentum and the building effect, and as a result the work’s architecture did not clearly emerge as it needs to. And in Bruckner, that’s a cardinal sin, because if the architecture can not emerge clearly, the performance is not going to be successful.

    The recapitulation of the theme in the 2nd movement that leads up to the movement’s climax is a good example of this. Instead of just letting the music flow and gradually build to the outburst, Nelsons kept starting and stopping it, starting and stopping it, starting and stopping it. We arrived at the climax, but it had the feel neither of inevitability (as it does when it’s done well) or that the climax was even earned. It was just there. And poor playing by the brass marred the coda, robbing it of the inherent grief and emotional pain that can come across when it’s played well and when the rest of the pieces of the movement have been laid in place properly before the coda arrives. Neither happened last night.

    Having now heard a number of Nelsons’ concerts, I have to say, this is emerging as his achilles heel as a conductor: a tendency to micro-manage and to disrupt momentum. Some of his successful performances worked in spite of this, but not this Bruckner 7. I’ve loved most of what I’ve heard from him thus far (Tchaikovksy 5, Tchaikovsky 6, Brahms 3). But I thought this was a failure, unfortunately. He needs to just let the music unfold more and to tinker with it less.

    The BSO also had a bit of a rocky night with the Bruckner. The brass has been playing at an extraordinary level in recent memory, but last night there were flubs, missed notes, missed entrances, etc. It was not their finest hour.

    Maybe it’s not fair to compare Nelsons’ Bruckner to Haitink’s and Graf’s. Haitink has had a lifetime of performing this music, and the fact is, the greatest performances of Bruckner’s symphonies have almost always come from conductors in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. As Herbert von Karajan once said, it takes a lifetime of experience to achieve the single pulse that’s necessary for a successful performance of Bruckner’s symphonies. So perhaps it’s not fair to expect something on this scale from a conductor who is starting out in his Bruckner journey rather than one who has been on it for decades.

    I have great hopes for Andris Nelsons as a conductor of Bruckner. I suspect he will become a formidable one in time. But he’s definitely not there yet.

    Comment by Mogulmeister — January 16, 2015 at 6:19 pm

  2. It surprised me that Maestro Nelsons didn’t give Mike Roylance a solo bow, after giving every other wind section leader one (except maybe the Wagner tubas). Were the tubas and Wagner tubas the offenders Mogulmeister detected in the brass?

    I was pleased that Maestro Nelsons decided to share his thoughts about Bruckner. With that introduction, for what may be the first time for me listening to a Bruckner symphony, it never felt tedious.

    Comment by Joe Whipple — January 16, 2015 at 10:42 pm

  3. The Wagner tubas were definitely not having a good night on Thursday, but at times neither were the trumpets nor the French horns. There was plenty of blame to spread around.

    One other comment I should have made in my first posting. What was noticeable to me about Nelsons’ reading was the lack of mystery in the playing. That element can be fairly prominent in this symphony more than many of Bruckner’s others, but it was not present in Nelsons’ reading. Obviously that’s an interpretive choice, but it was one I didn’t care for. It was all fairly literal, which I felt lost something.

    It seems to me that there are a number of camps of thought when it comes to conducting a Bruckner symphony. Some (Karajan, Celibidache, Skrowaczewski, Haitink, Wand) take the single pulse approach and usually stick to a basically steady tempo as written, delineating the architecture through a combination of phrasing and dynamics. And others (Jochum, Furtwangler, etc.) use flexible/unscored tempo changes amongst sections, to delineate the architecture of the work. But I have yet to hear someone before Andris Nelsons who uses flexible/unscored tempo changes WITHIN sections to delineate structure. And to my ears, it didn’t work, and instead was entirely disruptive without in any way creating light.

    That’s my take on it. Others may well have had a different experience.

    Comment by Mogulmeister — January 17, 2015 at 8:08 am

  4. I wonder how “the many tempo modification that almost certainly go back to Nickisch,” referred to in the program note relate to this. Would Jochum and Furtwängler have used/been influenced by them? Might Nelsons have been following them?

    Comment by Joe Whipple — January 17, 2015 at 1:55 pm


    This nicely touches (at a high level) on some of these issues, seems to me.

    Comment by David Moran — January 17, 2015 at 7:42 pm

  6. I was listening carefully for upsetting tempo modifications on Saturday, and found very few. The pause before the recap in the first movement was a bit of a statement, and it is possible that the second movement could have been a little firmer in its transitions, to help listeners who didn’t know the score and couldn’t see Nelsons doing his thing. Nevertheless, the overall arc of the symphony’s drama was very convincing, and it was good not to hear it done so slowwwly. Giving the woodwinds some real space to sound individual was a nice touch, and the folk-ish bits were more obvious than in some other performances. Comparing this more objectively to the Nikisch editings as well as Jochum and F-waengler’s recordings might be instructive. But subjectively, I wasn’t bothered and was often thrilled by it. It was a convincing convergence of several voices, and not an artificial mess of gear changes.

    BTW, I was amazed to see the Toscanini/NYPSO broadcast mentioned among the recommended recordings in the printed program. What little I’ve heard of it on Youtube is well worth it, but this was only the second–and final– Bruckner symphony that the Maestro ever led. His verdict after it was all done? Further proof that Bruckner had never slept with a woman.

    Anyway, that wasn’t a problem this evening.

    If there was anything to caution about tonight it was a hint of coarseness in the sound, along with a few corporate intonation issues, especially vs the piano which refused to go sharp. To be fair, I was sitting further toward the stage in the balcony than usual, and the dry, Arctic air doubtless makes its impact felt in the acoustics as well as the response of individual instruments. For all I know, it might even influence what the musicians hear and decide to react to. Still, it seems that the full-throatedness that Nelsons is asking of the BSO may take a little calibration over time. Nothing to worry about, and in another hall it will hardly be noticed.

    (Is there any effort to add humidity to the Symphony Hall auditorium in the winter? I know they have done so in the musicians’ room backstage. Also, what about the risers? Koussy used them with great results, and– I seem to remember that– Rattle/Berlin used some in their last trip through. THEIR sound wasn’t harsh or congested in the least.)

    Comment by Camilli — January 18, 2015 at 12:08 am

  7. Boston apparently does not live up to its hype as a cultured city. Just like it is bizarre in the music world to introduce Beethoven’s 1248 to people as unknown foreign pieces, it is almost ridiculous to introduce a Bruckner symphony as unestablished work, while he is the only composer who has the right to put his works closest to Beethoven’s in the symphony pantheon. I highly appreciate Mr.Nelsons’ special feeling towards Bruckner, because I would say almost the exact same thing he said, but it is indeed sad to think that the local music culture made him to believe such an introduction is necessary. It is 2015 and this is No.7, not even (95)632 by popularity. Can you imagine this being done in Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg anywhere in Deutschland?

    The world is very cruel. There are not great many people who love classical music, even fewer Bruckner, even fewer fewer same feeling towards his music. I am talking about Mr.MM here. Even though the overall impression of the performance was on similar scale, but the reasons lead to the conclusion are very different. I still remember last’s review on B7 of boston phil performance. James Liu criticized tempo shifts too often. Then a Mr.BrucknerSociety correctly pointed out that it is not debatable that Bruckner’s music should have frequent tempo shifts while maintaining overall broad pace. There were some fine moments when the tempo was changed. I remember in the middle of 1st movement, Nelsons slowed down a passage to a very cautious pace. (sorry, don’t have score now) That did impress me. Fine gestures (micro management as MM put it) are a great strength of Nelsons’. I don’t see that being the reason that produced mediocre result. On the contrary, the players have to even more tightly controlled, because by nature most of them are Mahler lovers don’t have the spontaneity when the music calls for. please recall that the typically-small-gestured Dohnanyi had to amplify his arm movement in B4 concert a couple of years ago. But I agree with MM. Certain emotion climaxes were not rightly built up. I still think Nelsons is more capable of achieving that than BSO. The playing quality was not great again in a Bruckner concert. The most unforgiving moment was towards the end of the 2nd movement. The brass’s mistake turned the music into discord. Everyone should be extremely angry at it. If I were the conductor, I would pick that player out, put him against the wall, punch in his face 20 times and strangle him. Lord, we know how difficult to get the music into the right mood but it was so easily destroyed. Didn’t they make a gaffe in B4 too? The execution in the 3rd/4th movements was worse, very hard on ears. There was not much loveliness in the 3rd movement. Overall, I think the performance positively (maybe 3.5 on Amazon scale)

    Usually I won’t say anything about Mozart PC. All Mozart’s PC need to produce an operatic feeling, but I did not hear much in this 24 performance. Another thing I want to say is Mozart has this care free character, but I thought the 1st movement could have more seriousness from the piano.

    Comment by Thorsten — January 18, 2015 at 9:20 am

  8. BTW, I am sure Mr. Moran only meant to be polite, because that Globe review was only a piece of template with some polite words.

    Comment by Thorsten — January 18, 2015 at 9:23 am

  9. Re Camilli’s parenthetical remarks on acoustics: I think that the best way to humidify a concert hall is to put 2500 people in it.

    Would it be a good idea to humidify it, even if it were possible ? For a long time Symphony Hall has had the reputation of being acoustically one of the best concert halls in the world. It presumably gained this reputation in the winter, because that is when the Symphony plays there.

    I thought the sound was quite clear and transparent and beautiful, at least during the Mozart. It got thicker later, but that was the composer, not the atmosphere.

    Comment by SamW — January 18, 2015 at 9:27 am

  10. Thorsten: “The brass’s mistake turned the music into discord. Everyone should be extremely angry at it. If I were the conductor, I would pick that player out, put him against the wall, punch in his face 20 times and strangle him.”

    That, my friends, is why the BSO selection committee ultimately chose Andris over Thorsten.

    Comment by nimitta — January 18, 2015 at 10:09 am

  11. Thank you, nimitta. I am going to have to start reading Thorsten’s comments. Such nuggets are not to be missed.

    Comment by SamW — January 18, 2015 at 10:21 am

  12. Interesting comments all!

    Thorsten, let me preface my remarks by stating that Bruckner is *by far* my favorite composer, who to my ears towers over all others (even Beethoven). I know all of the Bruckner symphonies like the back of my hand, and like Andris Nelsons stated in his impromptu comments before the start of the 7th Symphony on Thursday night, I find Bruckner’s music to be uniquely stirring to my soul. I own the Bruckner cycles from Karajan (the greatest of all, in my opinion), Jochum, Skrowaczewski, Celibidache and Furtwangler (as they exist), etc., plus *many* individual recordings of all of the symphonies. I am saddened that not more people know and love this phenomenal music. To the extent that Andris Nelsons will get people to listen to Bruckner and to hear more than the 7th, 8th, and 9th symphonies ever 5-10 years in Boston, is a victory.

    One can’t hold Nelsons to the standard of the greatest Bruckner conductors at this stage of his career, because he’s just starting out on his Bruckner journey. More than most composers, Bruckner’s music needs year of experience conducting it to do it well. Think about it, the greatest performances of the Bruckner symphonies are almost always by conductors in their 60s, 70s, and 80s who have been living with this music and conducting it for decades. I have no way to know for sure, but I suspect that Karajan’s performances of Bruckner in Aachen were nowhere near at the level of excellence as he routinely was putting forward in Berlin and Vienna in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

    By Amazon standards, I would have rated Nelsons’ Thursday night’s performance of B7 at 2 stars (out of five). I think what undid the performance (aside from some sloppy playing, which while unpleasant wasn’t fatal) was Nelsons’ unnecessary tinkering with phrases and tempos, which distorted the architecture of the work.

    By contrast, the most remarkable live performances I’ve heard of B7 were Graf/BSO, Haitink/BSO, and Christopher Seaman/Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra (out of a total of 11 live performances I’ve heard in my life). Haitink’s performance left me stunned and speechless. But Graf’s is the one I cherish the most. What Hans Graf did in that concert–which I’ve never heard anyone do before or since–was he delineated the architecture of the symphony through variations of *sound*, i.e. getting the orchestra to sound different, not through tempo shifts. That is, he emphasized the contrasting blocks of sound that Bruckner writes into his symphonies (especially the later ones), to mimic the giant organ effect with shifting organ stops, that is Bruckner’s incredibly unique approach to orchestration. It was simply unbelievable. Graf emphasized the sound differences in each “building block” within movements, and used the contrasts in the sound of the orchestra to delineate the architecture of the work and make it clear as day. It was revelatory and astonishing, and I couldn’t believe what I’d just heard. I went after the concert and talked with Maestro Graf to express my extreme gratitude and admiration for what I’d just heard. It was the performance of a lifetime.

    Delineating the architecture of a Bruckner symphony through tempo shifts to my ears is a cheap and usually unsuccessful way of getting to the truth of Bruckner. The only conductor who to my ears succeeded in doing this was Jochum, and not always. Most who do it instead fail. And it seemed to me that this was what Nelsons was doing on Thursday night, unsuccessfully. Contrast that approach with other conductors who take the steady-as-she-goes approach and instead engage phrasing, sonic contrasts, and intensity of performance to delineate the work’s architecture. That far longer list includes such great Bruckner conductors as Herbert von Karajan, Celibidache, Giulini, Skrowaczewski, Haitink, and Wand.

    At the end of the day, the problem with Bruckner from an audience perspective is that his music is almost impossible for anyone to grasp on a first or second listen. Unlike almost every other composer, Bruckner’s syphonies are constructed modularly, not linearly. An effective Bruckner conductor has to figure out how to make clear these distinct “sections” or modules and then string them together coherently so that the overarching structure is unambiguous to a listener. When it’s done right, the effect is overwhelming. Bruckner’s symphonies are unlike any other composer, and bring immense rewards on their own terms. Hans-Hubert Schonzeler said it better than I believe anyone ever will:

    “Bruckner’s symphonies are in reality one gigantic arch, which starts on Earth amidst suffering humanity, travels up to the Heavens to the very throne of grace, and returns with a message of peace.”

    I have great hopes for Andris Nelsons as a Bruckner conductor. He has the potential to become one of the all-time great conductors of Bruckner. But if history is any sort of guide, that is a long journey where the best is well ahead of him.

    Comment by Mogulmeister — January 18, 2015 at 10:55 am

  13. About the Mozart. I’m not trying to set off a firestorm, but what was unfortunate about the performance was Nelsons’ embracing the concept of historically-informed performance (HIP) of Mozart. To my ears, HIP puts the music in an emotional straitjacket and (with all due respect to Katherine Hepburn) allows the range of emotional expressiveness to run from A to B.

    I’m not going to question whether or not such practices are historically accurate; I just find them musically and emotionally unfulfilling, and I hear the music screaming out to played with more heart and expressiveness than it gets with this approach. Unfortunately it seems like the HIP Taliban (a phrase coined by Bernard Michael O’Hanlon, President of the Australian Knappertsbusch Association) has convinced most in the musical world today that this is the only valid approach play classical-era music.

    But allow me to quote the late Sir Colin Davis on this. I read an interview in the U.K. a few years before he passed away in which he was asked about HIP and his thoughts on it. His response was memorable: “Nonsense! It’s not the music that I know!”

    The best Mozart I’ve ever heard live was always from Maestro Davis.

    Comment by Mogulmeister — January 18, 2015 at 11:14 am

  14. Usually when Mogulmeister offers his opinion of a Mozart performance he prefaces it with a helpful remark about how he does not really like Mozart, which alerts the unwary that they can safely disregard whatever comes after. Unfortunately he neglected to do that this time. As someone who regards the first work on last night’s program as a towering masterpiece by the purest musical genius who ever lived, and the second as an earnest effort by a mid-rank striver, let me say that the C-minor concerto was wonderfully played, grand, symphonic, vital, and not in the least lacking in “heart and expressiveness”, unless by those words you really mean “waddling in gravy and marmalade”.

    “HIP Taliban” is vile, but then reactionaries are always imagining they are about to get their heads cut off. Characterizing whole generations of dedicated, and often brilliant, musicians as life-and-art-hating ideologues is mere invective.

    Comment by SamW — January 18, 2015 at 1:58 pm

  15. Wow Sam….lots of adjectives in that last posting. I’m impressed!

    Look…sorry if I unintentionally pushed your buttons. You’re welcome to not care for Anton Bruckner’s music. And to enjoy HIP Mozart or HIP anything. But let’s be clear, I’m commenting on a *performance style*, not insulting a generation of musicians.

    And shock of all shocks, I do actually own some Mozart discs in my expansive collection. But you won’t find the names Hogwood, Norrington, Harnoncourt, Abbado, or other such conductors among them, i.e. those who feed us undernourished, underfed, emaciated Mozart. In my collection are instead Klemperer (my favorite of all in Mozart), Furtwangler, Karajan, and Bernstein, i.e. “big band” Mozart. They are all the antitheses of the HIP crowd.

    It’s all a matter of taste. I just prefer to have hearty, thick, whole-grain bread, rather than Wonder Bread.

    Comment by Mogulmeister — January 18, 2015 at 5:01 pm

  16. >> … Moran only meant to be polite, because that Globe review was only a piece of template with some polite words.

    No, and don’t agree.

    Comment by David Moran — January 18, 2015 at 5:02 pm

  17. Well, you must admit that “Taliban” is somewhat pejorative, and seems to refer to people, not to a performance style. Still, I’m willing to lay that to the President of the Australian Knappertsbusch Association, not to you.

    It is of course just a matter of taste, but we deceive ourselves if we think we can ever talk about taste for long without talking about value. You couldn’t even finish a two-sentence paragraph without doing it. I don’t mean to single you out; I can’t do it either. A critic who always gave the disclaimer “I consider all works to be of equal value, but these are my preferences” would have no readers.

    Comment by SamW — January 18, 2015 at 6:49 pm

  18. “The most unforgiving moment was towards the end of the 2nd movement. The brass’s mistake turned the music into discord. Everyone should be extremely angry at it.”

    If you are talking about the first Wagner Tuba playing D# instead of E right before the horns join in (4th bar before what appears as letter Y in most editions), then you should know that what they played actually follows what is written in Bruckner’s original autograph score (which you can find on imslp. you can also see the infamous percussion business there). In that manuscript the first Tuba has F-natural, that with the B-flat transposition sounds as Eb/D#. The published editions have it as F# which would sound as E. Again the well-known multiple versions trouble in Bruckner.

    I guess Nelsons must have studied his Celibidache, since that is the only recorded performance I know of that follows the autograph at that spot. Actually when I first heard the Celi I also thought that it was an unacceptable mistake by the brass, just like you!

    Comment by YR — January 18, 2015 at 10:11 pm

  19. Mr. YR, I was only aware of the percussion business, but I had no idea of this manuscript issue. Thanks for sharing that. Was the recording you mentioned from EMI? I don’t remember hearing that. I discarded his DG SWR cds. Oh good grief, Celi had some good moments, but if Nelsons were to choose to follow him, I lost my words.

    Sam said “Usually when Mogulmeister offers his opinion of a Mozart performance he prefaces it with a helpful remark about how he does not really like Mozart, which alerts the unwary that they can safely disregard whatever comes after.”

    Following the same logic, one earns the right to say, we can safely disregard whatever he says about music, because for fact readers here all know Sam does not appreciate Bruckner and Wagner. That fact alone guarantees it is MORE SAFELY to do so. However, we still read whatever he has to say.

    Many well known conductors have bad music taste, which is a fact too. Very intimately, I share this Bruckner golden rule with my fellow Bruckner lovers. (It is like Siegfried tells ‘friends’ he has a hole on his back) The rule is simple: any conductor who chooses edition other than 1889 Nowak for Bruckner 3 in performance/recording, can be safely disregarded in Bruckner worship. The list includes Solti, Haitink (surprise to some people?) … Celi at least chose the right score.

    Comment by Thorsten — January 20, 2015 at 1:30 pm

  20. Thorsten-
    Yes, I was referring to the Munich EMI, and if I remember correctly he did the same in the filmed MPO performance in Japan and in the Berlin Philharmonic concert of ’92. The earlier SWR recording actually plays E there, probably Celi didn’t know the manuscript back then. If we’re at it, the SWR recordings are vastly inferior to the later MPO ones, simply because of the latter being a much, much better orchestra. The 7th is actually not the greatest performance of the EMI set, but 4, 6 and 9 are just beyond words in my opinion.

    Well, if we are now into discussing B7 discography, then for me the greatest of all is a live performance from the final night of the 1949 Salzburg festival, Knappertsbusch conducting the Vienna Philharmonic. How inspired Kna could be when he was in the mood, it seems.
    As for Nelsons, I also thought that he fiddled too much with the rhythm and found those sudden fermatas of his very wrong, but there were definitely some very good things there. Especially how he managed to tone down the aggressive brass playing that usually makes any Bruckner by an American orchestra sound awful.

    Comment by YR — January 20, 2015 at 9:18 pm

  21. I heard this program as aired on WAMC last night. Vogt played the Mozart often with such timidity, especially in his left hand, that he seems to suffer from a case of Excessive Reverence for Mozart — in which pianists hold Mozart in such esteem that they’re afraid to actually touch the keyboard. (Mitsuko Unchida is another who is too afraid to “play out”, because the music is sacred.) And Nelsons apparently agreed with him, so the performance was too delicate.

    The Bruckner was much better, but I also heard, last week, the performance of “Don Quixote”, which was SO stretched out and marked by ritards everywhere that I was really disappointed. If this is what we have to look forward to — a young man conducting like an old man with a Bernsteinean obsession with ritardandi everywhere — then the BSO has made a serious mistake.

    Comment by Don Drewecki — January 26, 2015 at 1:16 pm

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