Day 124: Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (Rogner)

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 Heinz Rogner (1929-2001), who was born in Leipzig, Germany.

Maestro Rogner is included in a box set that bears his name in large letters called Bruckner: Complete Symphonies, which you can buy from Amazon here.

However, even though I’m up to Day 124, I’ve only heard Mr. Rogner four previous times. All other times dipping into the Rogner box set resulted in me hearing other conductors.

Prior to Day 60 (Symphony No. 4), I had never heard a performance conducted by Heinz Rogner.

But I did again on Day 76, Symphony No. 5.

Then again on Day 92, Symphony No. 6.

Then again, most recently, on Day 108, Symphony No. 7.

As a reminder, this is from Rogner’s bio on Wikipedia:

From 1958 to 1962, Rögner was chief conductor of the Leipzig Radio Orchestra. From 1973 to 1993, he was chief conductor of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 1984, he became chief conductor of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, and in 1990 took the title of permanent guest conductor.

BrucknerRognerBoxThe great thing about the Bruckner: Complete Symphonies set is it’s from Brilliant Classics, one of the most affordable, yet high-quality record labels I’ve ever encountered. I have many box sets from Brilliant Classics, mostly because they release complete recordings – as in Complete Bach, Complete Mozart, Complete Beethoven, etc. Their prices are incredibly low compared to what you get in return, usually far less than $1 per disc.

(And I swear Brilliant Classics didn’t pay me to type those words. I’m just passionate about their label.)

On to the facts of today’s recording…

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 8 in C Minor (WAB 108), composed between 1884-1890
Heinz Rogner conducts
Rogner used “1877/90 version, ed. Haas,” according to the CD sleeve.
Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester Berlin plays
The symphony clocks in at 75:01
This was recorded in May of 1985 – location unknown
Rogner was 54 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 66 when he finished composing it
This recording was released on the Brilliant Classics label

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 8 in C Minor, ed. Haas), from this particular conductor (Rogner) and this particular orchestra (Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester) is as follows:

I. Allegro moderato…………………………………………………………………………….12:33
II. Scherzo. Allegro moderato…………………………………………………………….13:18
II. Adagio. Feierlich langsam; aber nicht schleppend……………………….26:21
IV. Finale. Feierlich, nicht schnell……………………………………………………….22:47

Total running time: 75:01

From the liner notes on Symphony No. 8, written by Klemens Hippel,

The vast dimensions of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony form a perfect target for those casting aspersions at the “excesses” in the symphonic works of this composer – a reproach to which they have always been subjected…even for followers of Bruckner it has on numerous occasions seemed necessary to contain the great dimensions of his works by undertaking extensive alterations to their compositional structure – considerable abridgements being common practice.

And now for my subjective assessment:

My Rating:
Recording quality: 4 (typical Brilliant Classics fare – crisp, clean, and exciting)
Overall musicianship: 4
CD liner notes: 4 (decent essays on each Bruckner symphony, but little information about the conductors)
How does this make me feel: 4

This is another electrifying performance from Hans Rogner and the Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester. The recording was good, albeit a little brassy in the horn section. Overall, this is a powerful, dynamic, even majestic performance that stirred and moved me.

The French horns and the oboe (or is it the clarinet?) in the Adagio (4:29 onward) are gorgeous. So pretty. So moving. Although I tend to like Scherzo in every symphony, in this performance, I think the Allegro and the Finale stood out the most. Those two movements ran the gamut of emotions.

This CD warrants a very big “Huzzah!” from me.

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