This morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s “Symphony of Pauses” (Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, WAB 102) is Sir George Solti (1912-1997).
From his entry on Wikipedia:
Sir Georg Solti, KBE (21 October 1912 – 5 September 1997) was an orchestral and operatic conductor, best known for his appearances with opera companies in Munich, Frankfurt and London, and as a long-serving music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Born in Budapest, he studied there with Béla Bartók, Leó Weiner and Ernő Dohnányi.
Known in his early years for the intensity of his music making, Solti was widely considered to have mellowed as a conductor in later years. He recorded many works two or three times at various stages of his career, and was a prolific recording artist, making more than 250 recordings, including 45 complete opera sets. The most famous of his recordings is probably Decca’s complete set of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, made between 1958 and 1965. Solti’s Ring has twice been voted the greatest recording ever made, in polls for Gramophone magazine in 1999 and the BBC’s Music Magazine in 2012. Solti was repeatedly honoured by the recording industry with awards throughout his career, including a record 32 Grammy Awards as a recording artist.
The last time I encountered Sir Georg Solti was on Day 14. If you want to know what I thought of that recording, take a look back a couple of weeks.
This time, however, in doing research on Sir Georg, I was intrigued by the claim that his recording of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen was twice named the greatest recording of all time.
I tracked it down on YouTube (of course) and discovered I could listen to what appears to be a great chunk of it starting here.
Sir Georg was an accomplished conductor with a pedigree a mile long. His bio on the Decca Record Label can be read here.
But, before I – a mere mortal – pass judgment on this morning’s recording of Bruckner’s Second Symphony, here are the nuts and bolts:
Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, composed in 1872
Sir Georg Solti conducts
Chicago Symphony Orchestra plays
The version used is the Nowak edition, year unknown
The symphony clocks in at 55:11 (making it one of the shortest I’ve heard so far)
This was recorded in October of 1991, in Chicago, USA
Sir Georg was 76 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 48 when he composed it
This recording was released on the London/Decca Music Label
Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, Nowak edition), from this particular conductor (Solti) and this particular orchestra (Chicago Symphony Orchestra) is as follows:
Okay. Now for the subjective aspects to this morning’s listening:
Recording quality: 5
Overall musicianship: 5
CD liner notes: 4 (extensive essays about Bruckner and his symphonic style in German, French, English, and what appears to be Portuguese – however, no mention of the record label anywhere in its 56 pages, nor is there adequate information about the version used. Which version isn’t usually mentioned.)
How does this make me feel: 4
Aside from a bit of harshness on the brass, this is another remarkable recording.
The Finale is particularly majestic. Love the rapid-fire staccato of the trumpets around the 10:22-10:30 mark.
There’s a bit of a cavernous reverb in some of the quiet moments that follow a particularly resounding burst of full-on orchestra. But, overall, this is a very fine recording of an inspired performance.
The French horn is a bit muted for my tastes in the recurring pizzicato/French horn melody Second Movement. And it doesn’t seem as exuberant as it does in other recordings. It still seems someone slowed and timid.
But this symphony really crackles with life under the direction of Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Someone has uploaded a video (audio only) of Sir Georg’s interpretation of Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. I don’t know if this YouTube clip is what I’m hearing this morning. But it’s possible.