This morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s “Symphony of Pauses” (Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, WAB 102) is Stanislaw Skrowaczewski (1923-), the famed Polish-born artist who even has a web site with a cool name: Seeking The Infinite, which is also the title of a biography about him.
You can find his bio here, and I encourage you to do so. Buy it while it’s still in print. It’s a hefty book well worth the price.
To my knowledge, Mr. Skrowaczewski is still alive…and still conducting. At least he was two years ago in Minneapolis.
And it’s a good thing, too. The world is a finer place with him in it.
This is very fine music that – well, let’s save the subjective aspects ’til later.
First, the nuts and bolts:
Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, composed in 1872
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski conducts
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrucken plays
The version used is…unknown. No information about it.
The symphony clocks in at 59:02
This was recorded in October of 1999, in Saarbrucken, Germany
Stanislaw Skrowaczewski was 76 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 48 when he composed it
This recording was released on the OEHMS Classics Record Label
Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, version/edition unknown), from this particular conductor (Skrowaczewski) and this particular orchestra (Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Saarbrucken) is as follows:
From the essay (written by Barbara Dobretsberger) in the booklet that comes with the box set:
The Second Symphony was well received by the critics, partly perhaps because of its similarities to Beethoven’s symphonies and its strong affinities with the classical form. Nevertheless, even here, Bruckner was unable to ignore his friends’ and contemporaries’ suggestions for alteration. Very few of his symphonies exist in only one version, but in all the revised versions his typical tonal idiom still remains intact. A close thematic relationship between the opening and final movements and the choral movement form in the Andante appear here for the first time and remain a a signature of Bruckner’s composition right up to his latest works.
Okay. Now for the subjective aspects to this morning’s listening:
Recording quality: 5
Overall musicianship: 5
CD liner notes: 3 (no information about which versions/editions of symphonies used)
How does this make me feel: 5
This is a stirring, powerful, energetic, brisk, captivating performance. It’s extremely well recorded. It’s short (especially the Scherzo), but it doesn’t feel rushed. It feels…perfect.
Just an all ’round fine interpretation of this already fine symphony.
With the major exception that I cannot find anywhere in this CD box set information about which version was used for Bruckner’s Second Symphony. That really grates my cheese. I want to know what Mr. Skrowaczewski chose, and why.
If OEHMS Classics would re-issue this in the future, I’d like to see it with that particular information included for each symphony.