Day 89: Symphony No. 6 in A Major (Maazel)

bigapplebagelsdec30-2016

My “office” this morning is Big Apple Bagels.

At this hour, no one else is here – which suits me just fine.

It’s just me, my wife, and the Smooth Jazz that often plays in establishments trying hard to be cultured.

Me?

I have no need of culture.

I have Anton Bruckner, as rendered by Lorin Maazel, to give me all the culture I need while I eat my Cheddar bagel, toasted, with plain cream cheese, and sip a Breakfast Blend coffee.

brucknermaazelcd7frontThis morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A Major (WAB 106) is American Lorin Maazel (1930-2014).

I first encountered Maestro Maazel on Day 9 in my 144-day project.

Then, on Day 25.

Then, on Day 41.

Then, on Day 57.

Most recently, on Day 73.

To say that I have not, as a general rule, enjoyed Mr. Maazel’s interpretations is to understate the matter.

But to precisely state the matter, here are the facts:

brucknermaazelboxBruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A Major (WAB 106) composed 1879-1881
Lorin Maazel conducts
Maazel used the “1879-1881; Edition L. Nowak,” according to the CD sleeve
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks plays
The symphony clocks in at 61:28
This was recorded in Munich, Germany, on March 11, 1999
Maazel was 69 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 51 when he composed it
This recording was released on the BR Klassic label

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 6 in A Major, “1879-1881; Edition L. Nowak”), from this particular conductor (Maazel) and this particular orchestra (Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks) is as follows:

I: Majestoso…………………………………………………………………………………………………….16:40
II: Adagio. Sehr feierlich (Very solemnly)……………………………………………………….17:59
III: Scherzo. Nicht schnell (Not fast) — Trio. Langsam (Slowly)………………………9:43
IV: Finale. Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (With motion, but not too fast)……17:05

Total running time: 61:28

Previous conductors turned in performances of Bruckner’s Sixth with these running times:

Karajan (Day 88): 57:36
Jochum (Day 87, green box): 56:21
Jochum (Day 86, white box): 55:07
Haitink (Day 85): 54:18
Gielen (Day 84): 57:18
Haitink (Day 83, Bruckner Collection box): 57:01
Chailly (Day 82): 57:14
Barenboim (Day 81): 57:28

Maazel’s performance in this recording is a full four minutes longer than the next longest (Barenboim), and seven minutes longer than the shortest performance (Haitink, from the Haitink box set).

Now, the subjective aspects.

My Rating:
Recording quality: 4
Overall musicianship: 3
CD liner notes: 3 (short – but interesting – essays on Bruckner, Maazel, and the orchestra, translated into German and English; however, virtually nothing about the recordings – like when? where? what year? that information is on the CD sleeve)
How does this make me feel: 4

About that running time thing…

That’s one of the reasons why I look askance at Lorin Maazel. Virtually every one of his performances runs longer than anyone else’s. That added weight doesn’t improve the performance, either. On the contrary, it makes my butt hurt to have to sit and listen to his recordings – twice through, especially. (That’s how I do this. I listen through once while I’m adding all the factual data, and then I listen through again just to listen.)

That stated, I though Lorin Maazel’s interpretation of Bruckner’s Sixth to be one of the more enjoyable of the Maazel recordings I’ve heard to date.

It’s kind of a brassy recording. And it doesn’t seem to have the depth of other recordings to which I’ve listened. And it’s not the most alluring performance I’ve ever heard. But there’s something about it – especially Movement III (Scherzo) that I liked. It held my attention, even though I knew it was a Maazel interpretation, which – in my mind – was a contradiction in terms.

If I was forced to recommend this recording, I would. But reluctantly.

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