Day 84: Symphony No. 6 in A Major (Gielen)

christmas2016

My “office” this morning.

I didn’t leave home, partly because it’s Christmas Day and no restaurant is open.

But mostly because it’s Christmas Day and I would rather brew my own cup of coffee, pop in the classic 1947 movie Miracle On 34th Street, and watch the sun rise over the lake out back while I listen to…

brucknergielencd6frontThis morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A Major (WAB 106) is German-born Michael Gielen (1927-).

The orchestra is SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Frieburg.

I first encountered Maestro Gielen on Day 4 (Symphony No. 1) of my 144-day project.

Then again on Day 20 (Symphony No. 2).

And again on Day 36 (Symphony No. 3).

And again on Day 52 (Symphony No. 4).

And, most recently, Day 68 (Symphony No. 5).

Today is the sixth time I’m listening to one of his performances.

brucknergielenboxFrom what I recall, my interest in Mr. Gielen has been hot and cold – mostly cold.

But I’ll reserve the subjective stuff for later.

First, the objective aspects of this recording.

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A Major (WAB 106) composed 1879-1881
Michael Gielen conducts
Gielen chose the “Original 1881 Version” (according to the CD sleeve)
SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Frieburg plays
The symphony clocks in at 57:00
This was recorded in Freiburg Konzerthaus, Germany on March 29, 2001
Gielen was 74 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 57 when he finished composing it in 1881
This recording was released on the SWR Music label

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 6 in A Major, “Original Version 1881”), from this particular conductor (Gielen) and this particular orchestra (SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Frieburg) is as follows:

I: Majestoso…………………………………………………………………………………………………….17:07
II: Adagio. Sehr feierlich (Very solemnly)……………………………………………………….16:03
III: Scherzo. Nicht schnell (Not fast) — Trio. Langsam (Slowly)………………………9:25
IV: Finale. Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (With motion, but not too fast)……14:21

Total running time: 57:00

Now, the subjective aspects.

My Rating:
Recording quality: 3
Overall musicianship: 4
CD liner notes: 4 (short essays on the Michael Gielen Edition, Bruckner’s symphonies, and the orchestra, translated into English and German)
How does this make me feel: 3

This one is a head scratcher.

I can’t tell if I liked it or not.

And I gave it a chance. Twice, in fact – once in the picture I took above, and again later this evening. At the start of the day, and at the end of the day. With Christmas presents, Christmas dinner, and Christmas movies in between.

And it didn’t improve.

Movement III (Scherzo) is still my favorite in Bruckner’s Sixth. I seriously doubt any of the conductors and their orchestras will be able to screw that up.

But, this time around, Movement I (Majestoso), which is usually another favorite of mine, irritated me. The horns were pitched loudly and brassily, piercingly.

This was an adequate performance. Not good. Not bad.

But life is too short for such frivolities.

I want to be blown away by something, not mildly interested in it.

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