<< -- 2 -- Bill Newman TOWARDS AND BEYOND THE MIGHTY EIGHTH
I learnt my appreciation of Bruckner during the mid-fifties when the
late Robert Simpson gave lectures at London's Guildhall School of Music
with supporting performances from a student orchestra under the direction
of Bryan Fairfax.
He later broadcast a comparative review of three recorded versions of
Bruckner 8 -- Karajan with the Berlin Philharmonic (EMI), Van Beinum with
the Royal Concertgebouw (Philips), and Mavinsky and the Leningrad Philharmonic
(Melodiya). Totally different in concept overall pulse, instrumental timbres,
phrasing, psychological insights each revealed the personality styles of
three major conductors imparting their realization of one of the most complex
works in the romantic repertoire. After examining these factors with recorded
extracts, Fairfax declared it a draw!
Before the appearance of these recordings, a justly praised Bruckner
Eight by Jascha Horenstein, along with the Ninth had appeared on the Vox
label, but Furtwängler's four versions with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic
were not yet commercially available.
Horenstein, however, was busy making his London reputation performing
Bruckner at the Royal Festival Hall to great acclaim, while there were 78rpm
recordings of a few symphonies by other maestros, they were of mostly connoisseur
interest then, but enough to awaken serious appreciation.
Bruckner's Fourth The Romantic with Edvard van Beinum (I believe
with the London Philharmonic Orchestra) heard on the BBC Home Service in
my teens was love at first hearing! A recent CD (live relay) on Audiophile
Classics by the Dutchman with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra amplifies
those youthful impressions.
If I felt I needed further confirmation, C B Rees, the BBC's beloved
Music Correspondent, told me that he had always placed Bruckner above Mahler
in his affections.
Copyright © 8 July 2001
Bill Newman, Spoleto, Italy
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