Day 31: Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (Tintner)

brucknertintnercd2This morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s “Symphony of Pauses” (Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, WAB 102) is Georg Tintner (1917-1999), the Austrian-born composer/conductor I first heard a couple of years ago on a Classical radio station which was, if I recall correctly, playing one of Tintner’s performances of a Bruckner symphony.

UPDATE: November 6th. Actually, since I wrote this review, I have come to realize that I may not be recalling correctly. According to my order history on Amazon, I ordered Klaus Tennstedt’s Bruckner Symphonies 4 & 8 (EMI label) on June 26, 2009. So I’ve been familiar with Tennstedt at least that long. I knew one of the conductors I heard on the radio was Karajan. But I think I mixed up Tintner and Tennstedt as I wrote about them in this project because I looked at my Amazon order history just now and discovered that I ordered CDs by Karajan and Tennstedt – not Tintner – within a week or so of each other back in 2009, shortly after hearing a Bruckner symphony on the radio.

Anyway, it was hearing Bruckner on the radio which lead me to this 144-day project.

I last encountered Mr. Tintner on Day 15 of my project, where I wrote (incorrectly):

It was Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8. I remember immediately being deeply moved by Bruckner’s symphony and going home to look them up on Amazon. I bought the Karajan (DG label) version first. A couple of weeks later, I bought the Tintner (EMI label) version. I’m not sure why I bought both. Maybe I heard the station play, over the course of a few weeks, recordings from both. Or maybe I scrambled over to Amazon, saw the director the station played (probably Karajan) and bought it…but then later saw a Tintner edition at a reasonable price on a different label and decided to compare them.

Don’t remember now. All I remember is this: I knew a few conductor names going into this Buckner project. Georg Tintner was one of them.

brucknertintnerboxThis morning’s listening fare starts out with one word:

YIKES!

The running time for this performance is 71:22.

Seventy-one minutes and twenty-two seconds!

Are you kidding me?

This is the longest interpretation of Bruckner’s Second Symphony I’ve encountered to date. it’s over twenty minutes longer than one of Eugen Jochum’s performances (Day 22). It’s even even longer than Maazel’s hefty performance (Day 25). The next-closest conductor to Tintner’s performance is Franz Konwitschny (Day 28), which clocks in at 64:40. Not even Herbert von Karajan (Day 24), whom I might have suspected of bombast, doesn’t come close. (Karajan’s performances was a mere 60:08 – 11 minutes shorter than Tintner’s.)

What’s fueling Tintner’s extra length? Which version is he using, and at what tempo?

I’m not a musicologist. So I’m not going to discover any answers to those questions.

So, let’s dive right into the nuts and bolts:

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, composed in 1872
Georg Tintner conducts
National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland plays
William Carragan edition (pdf download found on the ABruckner.com web site)
The symphony clocks in at a whopping 71.22 (making it the longest I’ve heard so far)
This was recorded in September of 1996, in Dublin, Ireland
Georg was 79 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 48 when he composed it
This recording was released on the superb Naxos 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:

Moderato………….20:54
Scherzo……………..11:00
Andante…………….18:06
Finale…………………21:19

Total: 71:22

Note: In this version, the Scherzo is placed second.

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

My Rating:
Recording quality: 5
Overall musicianship: 5
CD liner notes: 5 (lengthy essays on each symphony, written by Georg Tintner)
How does this make me feel: 5

I wanted to type “4” for the most important aspect of all – how this symphony makes me feel – because of the bloated length. To may way of thinking, any version of a symphony that requires an extra 20 minutes to tell the story is a symphony I don’t want to hear.

Alas, I couldn’t.

I had to give it a “5.”

From the superb liner notes (written by Tintner):

Bruckner’s mania for revisions sometimes bore positive fruits, as, for instance, in the Fourth Symphony, but with the other works such as the Second and the Third his first versions seem to me the best. We must be grateful to Dr William Carragan for publishing for the first time, in 1991 the original (1872) version of the Second Symphony.

It was only in this 1872 edition of his Second Symphony that Bruckner wisely placed the Scherzo second, because this robust music makes a perfect contrast to the largely lyrical first movement. It is not clear what made him change his mind, but perhaps he was frightened (and he was easily frightened) that critics would accuse him of copying the order of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.

And that you have it.

This is a superb performance, at times electrifying. And extremely well recorded to boot.

Despite the length, this is the new Gold Standard for me when it comes to Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor. The quality of the recording, the near-slavish desire to adhere to Bruckner’s original intentions, and the energy of the performers makes this stand above all others.

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