Day 119: Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (Jochum)

I saw Daniel Barenboim conduct Staatskapelle Berlin’s performance of Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 last night at Carnegie Hall.

It was an unforgettable experience.

I loved every second of it.

Anyway, on with the show today…

This morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (WAB 108) (nicknamed “The Apocalyptic,” although I don’t know why) is German-born Eugen Jochum (1902-1987), without question one of the most highly respected interpreters of Anton Bruckner’s music who ever lived.

I own two CD box sets with performances conducted by Jochum – this one, on the Warner Classics label (I call it the “Green Box”), and another on the DG label (I call it the “White Box”). I chose to listen to the symphony from the DG “White Box” first because the recordings are older. (I figured alpha by conductor name, then chronological order by performance date was reasonable way to structure this project.)

The orchestra today, in the “Green Box,” is Staatskapelle Dresden.

To date, I have been privileged to hear 15 performances conducted by Maestro Jochum – eight from the “White Box” and seven from the “Green Box.”

As I’ve discovered, I prefer one of those box sets over the other.

But I’ll save the subjective stuff for later.

First, the objective stuff.

I first encountered Eugen Jochum in my 144-day project on Day 7, Symphony No. 1 (Green Box)

Then again on Day 23, Symphony No. 2 (Green Box).

Then again on Day 39, Symphony No. 3 (Green Box).

Then again on Day 55, Symphony No. 4 (Green Box).

Then again on Day 71, Symphony No. 5 (Green Box).

Then again on Day 87, Symphony No. 6 (Green Box).

Then, most recently, on Day 103, Symphony No. 7 (Green Box).

That’s the past.

Now, here are the objective aspects of today’s recording:

Bruckner Jochum 2BoxBruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (WAB 108) composed 1884-1890
Eugen Jochum conducts
Jochum used the “1890 version, ed. Nowak,” according to the CD sleeve
Staatskapelle Dresden plays
The symphony clocks in at 76:05
This was recorded in Dresden, Germany, in 1976
Jochum was 74 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 66 when he finished composing it
This recording was released on the Warner Classics label

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 8 in C Minor, edition unknown), from this particular conductor (Jochum) and this particular orchestra (Staatskapelle Dresden) is as follows:

I. Allegro moderato…………………………………………………………………………….13:55
II. Scherzo. Allegro moderato…………………………………………………………….14:00
II. Adagio. Feierlich langsam; aber nicht schleppend……………………….27:24
IV. Finale. Feierlich, nicht schnell……………………………………………………….20:45

Total running time: 76:05

Now, the subjective aspects.

My Rating:
Recording quality: 5
Overall musicianship: 5
CD liner notes: 3 (minimal information, one essay)
How does this make me feel: 5

A wonderful performance, especially the Scherzo.

This recording sounds somewhat warmer and fuller than Jochum’s did yesterday. Not sure how or why. But it seems smoother, somehow.

Plus, the balance of horn and string seems more equal.

The Adagio is powerful, rich, sublime, transporting. Wonderful harp playing, too. The strings really drive this one. And the French horn is warm and emotive.

The Finale was appropriately stirring. Powerful horn section.

I haven’t always liked the “Green Box” Jochum performances. But this one – for whatever reason – was just what the doctor ordered. It’s well recorded, muscular, and memorable.

I would absolutely recommend this recording to a newbie to Bruckner’s Eighth.

This performance rates an unabashed “Huzzah!”

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