Day 26: Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Masur)

brucknermasurcd2This morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (WAB 102) is Kurt Masur (1927-2015), another person about whom I knew nothing and of whom I had never heard until I started this project.

He was born in Germany and died just last year at the age of 88 in Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.

I first encountered Mr. Masur on Day 10 of my 144-day journey.

Let’s get right down to it – the objective aspects:

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, 1872 Original Edition), from this particular conductor (Masur) and this particular orchestra (Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra) is as follows:

Moderato………….19:50
Adagio……………….15:20
Scherzo……………..11:25
Finale…………………18:35

Total: 65:10

brucknermasurboxSixty-five minutes is a pretty hefty performance. It’s one of the longer ones so far, though not as long as yesterday’s interpretation from Maazel.

Let’s compare the timing of Masur’s interpretation to that of the last three – one from Maazel, one from von Karajan, and one from Jochum.

First, yesterday’s recording of Maazel:

Moderato………….20:59
Andante…………….17:32
Scherzo……………….7:31
Finale…………………12:31

Total: 69:34

Second, the recording from von Karajan:

Moderato………….18:16
Andante…………….17:34
Scherzo……………….6:12
Finale…………………18:06

Total: 60:08

Finally, Jochum:

Moderato………….18:00
Andante…………….14:57
Scherzo……………….6:34
Finale…………………12:46

Total: 52:38

The Masur recording this morning is five minutes longer than von Karajan’s and eight minutes longer than Jochum’s. It’s not as long as Maazel’s, though, which tops it by four minutes.

Despite the length of this morning’s performance, it doesn’t sound as “bloated” as yesterday’s did. In fact, well…

I’ll save the conclusions for the end. First, more hardcore stats:

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, composed in 1872
Kurt Masur conducts
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra plays
The version used is the 1872, Original version
The symphony clocks in at 65:10
This was recorded in January, 1978, in Leipzig, Germany
Masur was 51 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 48 when he composed it
This recording was released on the RCA Red Seal/Sony Record Label

Okay. Now for the subjective aspects to this morning’s listening:

My Rating:
Recording quality: 4
Overall musicianship: 5
CD liner notes: 0 (there are none – boo! hiss!)
How does this make me feel: 4

This is a very fine performance and a very fine recording. It doesn’t feel overly long. The tempo is sprightly. And my favorite combination of instruments (strings, playing pizzicato plus the French horn) in my favorite movement (Movement II) are lively without being rushed.

815fqs4bblI was stirred and captivated by this performance.

In reading about the Second Symphony, I came across this passage from Robert Simpson’s book The Essence of Bruckner:

Although the key is C minor, the mood could hardly be more different from that of the First Symphony. Here there is serene enjoyment of unassertive music-making, and Bruckner has succeeded in both relaxing and simplifying his invention. In later life he said that at this time he had scarcely the courage to write down ‘a proper theme’ – referring to the way criticism of No. 1 had undermined his confidence and to Otto Dessoff’s dismaying question about No. ‘0’ – but if the Second has no ‘proper theme’, then nothing has.

Indeed.

I find Bruckner’s Second Symphony to be a very “proper theme” that makes for a delightful listening experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.