Day 121: Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (Maazel)

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 American Lorin Maazel (1930-2014).

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

On that day, he interpreted Bruckner’s First.

Then again on Day 25, Symphony No. 2.

Then again on Day 41, Symphony No. 3.

Then again on Day 57, Symphony No. 4.

Then again on Day 73, Symphony No. 5.

Then again on Day 89, Symphony No. 6.

Then again, most recently, on Day 105, Symphony No. 7.

I listened to this symphony (which spans two CDs) twice – no mean feat considering its ridiculous length (86:05).

Oops. That’s an opinion. I’ll save that until I post the facts:

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (WAB 108), version “1887-1890; Edition L. Nowak” (according to the CD sleeve), composed 1884-1890.
Lorin Maazel conducts
Maazel used the “Edition L. Nowak,” according to the CD sleeve
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks plays
The symphony clocks in at an ass-numbing 86:05
This was recorded in Munich, Germany, on March 17, 1999
Maazel was 69 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 66 when he composed it
This recording was released on the BR Klassic label
brucknermaazelbox
Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (WAB 108), “Edition L. Nowak”), from this particular conductor (Maazel) and this particular orchestra (Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks) is as follows:

I. Allegro moderato…………………………………………………………………………….18:20
II. Scherzo. Allegro moderato…………………………………………………………….15:16
II. Adagio. Feierlich langsam; aber nicht schleppend……………………….28:21
IV. Finale. Feierlich, nicht schnell……………………………………………………….24:05

Total running time: 86:05 over two CDs (CD 1 – 33:36, CD 2 – 52:26)

Now, the subjective aspects…

Eighty-six minutes and five seconds? Are you kidding me?

It’s no wonder my ass hurt after listening to this twice through.

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? some of that information is on the CD sleeves)
How does this make me feel: 3

I don’t really know what to say about this recording.

It didn’t move me.

Not even the Finale.

Most of the time, the horns sounded too brassy. That never fails to irritate me.

And the performance, overall, sounded stately, rather than exhilarating. It had a somberness about it. Or a safeness. It was very tame considering the dynamics of Bruckner’s Eighth.

Speaking of dynamics, the horns seemed to outshine and overpower the strings. Not all the time. But much of the time. The strings seemed back too far in the mix. Even in the Scherzo, which is almost always my favorite movement of Bruckner’s four.

Then, there’s that jarring applause, which starts at 23:32 and lasts for a full 30 seconds.

I don’t think I could recommend this performance to a Bruckner newbie. It would likely bore him or her to tears.

“Meh.”

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