Day 107: Symphony No. 7 in E Major (Paternostro)

BrucknerPaternostroCD7FrontThis morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in E Major (WAB 107) is Vienna-born Roberto Paternostro (1957?-), another person about whom I knew nothing and of whom I had never heard until I started this project.

I first encountered the mysterious Mr. Paternostro (the box set contains zero information about him…an there’s scant info about him online) on Day 11, Symphony No. 1.

Then again on Day 27, Symphony No. 2.

And again on Day 43, Symphony No. 3.

And again on Day 59, Symphony NO. 4.

And again on Day 75, Symphony No. 5.

And, most recently, on Day 91, Symphony No. 6.

Today is the seventh time I’m hearing Maestro Paternostro interpret a Bruckner symphony.

If you want to know what I thought of those previous symphonies, take a peek. Let your mouse do the clicking. Otherwise, here are the facts about today’s recording:

brucknerpaternostroboxBruckner’s Symphony No. 7 in E Major (WAB 107) composed 1883-1881
Roberto Paternostro conducts
Paternostro used the ??? version. Which year? Which editor? Unknown.
Wurttembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen plays
The symphony clocks in at 63:14
This was recorded live at Basilika Weingarten, Germany, on July 15, 2000
Paternostro was 43 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 59 when he finished composing it
This recording was released on the SWR/Membran label

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 7 in E Major, version unknown), from this particular conductor (Paternostro) and this particular orchestra (Wurttembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen) is as follows:

I. Allegro moderato…………………………………………………………………………20:24
II. Adagio. Sehr feierlich und sehr langsam…………………………………..21:21
III. Scherzo. Sehr schnell………………………………………………………………….9:59
IV. Finale. Bewegt, doch nicht schnell……………………………………………11:31

Total running time: 63:14

And now for my subjective assessment:

My Rating:
Recording quality: 3 (tape hiss, what sounds like vinyl scratches and pops, ambient noises)
Overall musicianship: 3
CD liner notes: 0 (totally unacceptable)
How does this make me feel: 3

Paternostro and Wurttembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen turned in a taut little performance with Bruckner’s Seventh.

However, this one was hampered by a couple of niggling issues that always trip me up:

1. How it was recorded. Movement I sounds like it was recorded from vinyl. I know that sounds crazy. But I could have sworn I heard crackles and pops between 7:30 and 8:13, the kind you hear when you play a vinyl record. It was either that or there were some issues in the recording process, some crackles and pops from the cables or microphones.

Plus, the ambient noise from the orchestra (or was it he audience?). At the 14:09 and 15:00 marks in Movement II, and at 4:48 and 4:53 in the Finale, there’s some loud coughing going on. I realize this is a live recording, and people do cough. But, in this day and age, such sounds can be edited out. When they aren’t, I’m distracted. It’s like when people talk during a movie at the theater. It immediately yanks me out of the movie.

Also, the brass sounds brassy, piercing. I found myself wincing at the end of the Adagio, rather than feeling elation or an excited build up. At at 9:11 of the Finale, too. The brass instruments pierced my skull like a pencil in my ear.

2. How it was marketed. No liner notes is a deal breaker for me. If the music label doesn’t care enough about the conductor and the orchestra to include a booklet/liner notes in the box, why should I care to buy it? It’s really that simple. A label that doesn’t tell me what I’m listening to, obviously doesn’t take pride in its music, or exhibit confidence in its conductor and orchestra. Such an exclusion screams, “Cheap, throw-away music” to me.

Oh, one more thing, remember the Sherlock Holmes story in which the dog not barking was an important clue? The story is called The Adventure of Silver Blaze.

In this case, this is obviously a live recording. Yet, there’s no applause at the end of the Finale as there is on previous recordings from this box set. Why? Why lop it off of this one? Was it not satisfactory? Like, tepid applause? There was enough room on the disc for applause. The symphony is only a little over 63 minutes in length. A minute or two of applause could have been included.

So why wasn’t it?

Overall, I was underwhelmed by this performance. Or maybe the two “niggling things” I noted above combined to squelch my (possible) enjoyment of it.

Your mileage may vary.

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