Day 90: Symphony No. 6 in A Major (Masur)

brucknermorningdec31-2016

My “office” this morning, the local grocery store with a cafeteria and free wifi.

Time is 8:04am.

I’ve been here since 7am.

One of the things I love to do is watch the sun come up.

When I do so, I feel all conspiratorial and industrious, like I’m doing something sly by being out here when few others are.

Anyway, this is the best time for me to listen to music and write about it.

And that’s what I’m doing.

brucknermasurcd6frontThis morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A Major (WAB 106) is Kurt Masur (1927-2015), another person about whom I knew nothing and of whom I had never heard until I started this project.

He was born in Germany and died just last year (to the month – December, 2015) at the age of 88 in Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.

I first heard Mr. Masur interpret Bruckner’s symphonies on Day 10, Symphony No. 1.

Then again on Day 26, Symphony No. 2.

Then again on Day 42, Symphony No. 3.

Then again on Day 58, Symphony No. 4.

And, most recently, on Day 74, Symphony No. 5.

Today is Day 90, a milestone of sorts, representing about three months of constant listening to Anton Bruckner’s symphonies.

I’ve learned a lot about the composer, the conductors, and the orchestras.

But enough about that.

Here are the facts about today’s recording:

brucknermasurboxBruckner’s Symphony No. 6 in A Major (WAB 106) composed 1879-1881
Kurt Masur conducts
Masur used the “Original Version (1881),” according to the CD sleeve
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig plays
The symphony clocks in at a brisk 53:20
This was recorded in Leipzig, Germany, in 1978
Masur was 51 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 57 when he finished composing it
This recording was released on the RCA Red Seal 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 (Masur) and this particular orchestra (Gewandhausorchester Leipzig) is as follows:

I: Majestoso…………………………………………………………………………………………………….14:43
II: Adagio. Sehr feierlich (Very solemnly)……………………………………………………….15:00
III: Scherzo. Nicht schnell (Not fast) — Trio. Langsam (Slowly)………………………8:29
IV: Finale. Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (With motion, but not too fast)……15:08

Total running time: 53:20

And now for my subjective assessment:

My Rating:
Recording quality: 3
Overall musicianship: 4
CD liner notes: 0 (totally unacceptable)
How does this make me feel: 3

This is another recording that is remarkably average. It is well played, well made, and well conducted. But it doesn’t move me.

My favorite movements are still Movement I and Movement III. The Finale (Movement IV) is quite dramatic and stirring. But I am most intrigued by the aforementioned middle movements, especially Movement III. which comes across well in this recording. It is lively without being rushed, and dramatic without being shrill. Intriguing and captivating. Just the way I like it.

On the downside, it still bugs me that the RCA Red Seal label didn’t bother with liner notes. (“I don’t need no stinkin’ liner notes!”) Any Classical music label worthy of the name, and any conductor worthy of privilege, and any composer worthy of recording, and any box set worthy of owning is worthy of liner notes. The liner notes are the label’s chance to showcase its conductor, orchestra, composer, version, behind-the-scenes knowledge of the subject matter, etc.

I would hope someone at RCA Red Seal would think about commissioning a writer (or merely asking someone on staff) to create a booklet for this box set. It would add a lot of class to it.

Oh, one more thing…

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

In some parts of the world (Australia, for instance) it’s already 2017.

Here in the States we still have 13 hours to go before it’s officially 2017.

This holiday is usually the time when many (most?) people reflect on their lives, take stock, see how they shake out compared to their goals set forth at the start of year.

Most come up wanting.

And depressed.

Me?

bethdec30-2016-2I’m grateful for so many things, not least of which is a wife who sometimes sits near me at this hour, waiting for me to finish listening and blogging.

She’s been an encouragement to me from the get-go, urging me to pursuing my passion for Classical music and the symphonies of Anton Bruckner…and enormously patient as I spend 2-3 hours every morning on this project.

She even reads what I post, as I discovered when I took this picture just now. From the image on her mobile phone, I could tell she was reading my post about Georg Tintner.

She’s wearing a shirt that sums up my life: Life is Good.

How could it be otherwise?

I have Bruckner in my ears, a wife in my eyes, and love in my heart.

Goodbye 2016.

Here’s to 2017.

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