Day 88: Symphony No. 6 in A Major (Karajan)

paneradec29-2016

My “office” this morning.

Back to the loft at a local Panera Bread Co.

Now I know why my cat likes high places. I like the view from here.

Been doing a lot of pondering lately.

Mortality.

Especially the passing of iconic actress Debbie Reynolds one day after the passing of her famous daughter, Carrie.

The long, long list of beloved performers and celebrities who left us in 2016 is a sobering reminder of how short life is. (And even that list is incomplete: Greg Lake, 1/3 of ELP, is missing from it.)

Truth be told, I feel this way every time I do one of these music-exploring projects. Why? Because of the parenthesis – the birth/death dates. They’re a constant reminder of mortality.

Anyway, that’s part of what I think about when I do these projects.

Now…on with the show!

brucknerkarajancd7frontThis morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A Major (WAB 106) is Austrian Herbert von Karajan (1908-1989), one of the most highly respected conductors – and interpreters of Anton Bruckner’s music – who ever lived.

In fact, I compared Maestro Karajan to Tolkien’s fantasy novel Lord of the Rings on Day 56 and wrote that if Tolkien had written about the conducting world, Karajan would be the “one ring to rule them all.”

(By the way, the CD sleeve above, left, reads “7” because Symphony No. 6 in A Major is found on Disc 7 of the Karajan set.)

I first encountered the Maestro on Day 8 of my 144-day journey. On that day, he was interpreting Bruckner’s First Symphony.

Then, on Day 24, Symphony No. 2.

Then, Day 40, Symphony No. 3.

Then, on the aforementioned Day 56, Symphony No. 4.

Then, most recently, on Day 72, Symphony No. 5.

brucknerkarajanboxI’ve been looking forward to hearing Karajan’s interpretation of Bruckner’s Sixth, not only because it’s Karajan, but also because the orchestra is the Berliner Philharmoniker and the box set is one released by Deutsche Grammophon, one of the most prestigious labels of all time for Classical music. DG does nothing sloppily.

But, enough of my waxing subjective. Let’s get all the facts first. Then I’ll provide my opinion about them.

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A Major (WAB 106) composed 1879-1881
Herbert von Karajan conducts
Karajan used (according to the liner notes) the “Edition: 1881, ed. Haas, reissued with corrections, ed. Nowak”
Berliner Philharmoniker plays
The symphony clocks in at 57:36
This was recorded in Berlin, Germany, in September of 1979
Karajan was 71 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 57 when he finished composing it
This recording was released on the Deutsche Grammophon label

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 6 in A Major, Original 1881 version), from this particular conductor (Karajan) and this particular orchestra (Berliner Philharmoniker) is as follows:

I: Majestoso…………………………………………………………………………………………………….15:16
II: Adagio. Sehr feierlich (Very solemnly)……………………………………………………….18:58
III: Scherzo. Nicht schnell (Not fast) — Trio. Langsam (Slowly)………………………7:52
IV: Finale. Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (With motion, but not too fast)……15:13

Total running time: 57:36

Now, the subjective aspects.

My Rating:
Recording quality: 5
Overall musicianship: 5
CD liner notes: 5 (lengthy and informative, but very heavy on the Karajan worship)
How does this make me feel: 4 (but leaning heavily toward 5)

This is another superb recording from Herbert von Karajan, the Berliner Philharmoniker, and the DG label.

It’s definitely “Huzzah!” worthy.

Yet, I’m not feeling the total, over-the-top exuberance I normally would when I hear something this well done, this vibrant, this so very well recorded.

Maybe it’s all the deaths on the list, all the lives reduced to parentheses.

I don’t know. Something is weighing on me this morning.

Not even Herbert von Karajan and Bruckner’s Sixth can lift me from these doldrums.

But I really do want to shout “Huzzah!”

Really.

I do.

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