Slowing down for Bruckner

Posted on: August 21, 2015

“By the time I was a music major in college, with all the composers of the past competing for my attention, I had decided I could take a pass on Anton Bruckner,” writes Anthony Tommasini in Friday’s (8/21) New York Times. “From my impatient samplings of those symphonies, Bruckner struck me as a kind of ponderously monumental Brahms, or an inert and stretched-out Mahler…. Over the years, I came to appreciate ‘Bruckner time,’ let’s call it; that is, his way of structuring symphonies over long spans. Actually, it was deeper immersion in Wagner and Schubert that opened me to Bruckner, who revered both composers,” particularly Wagner’s Parsifal and Schubert’s Trio No. 2 in E flat for Violin, Cello and Piano, “a great yet stubbornly long work…. I started ‘getting’ Bruckner, particularly the Seventh Symphony…. The slow [first] movement, like a noble funeral ode with stretches of Wagnerian-tinged chorales, now seemed profound and inevitable. The scherzo came across like a grimmer, heavy-footed Schubert dance…. In 2010, when Kurt Masur conducted the New York Philharmonic in the Bruckner Seventh, I took along a playwright/director friend, Alec Duffy, who didn’t know the piece at all. ‘You have to hear it,’ I told him…. I never imagined I’d someday be turning anyone on to the Bruckner Seventh.”

Posted August 21, 2015