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Anton Bruckner

(1824 - 1896)

 

Symphony No. 8

 

 

Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra
Stanisław Skrowac
zewski, conductor

 

MDG 650 2307-2 

Double CD

Price: 21,99

 

Triumph

To mark the 100th birthday of legendary conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, MDG has released a live recording of Bruckner's 8th Symphony with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in cooperation with Denon, in Bruckner’s bicentenary year. With a career spanning eight decades, the 93-year-old conductor moulds Bruckner's last completed symphony into a moving legacy: the crowning achievement a life’s work.

 

Dedication
Born in Lviv, Poland (now part of Ukraine) in 1923, Skrowaczewski began violin and piano lessons at the age of four, and he composed his first symphony by age eight. At 11, he made his debut as a pianist and at 13 conducted and was soloist in Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto. This career ended when, in a WWII air raid, he suffered two broken hands and was left with nerve damage. He then turned to composing and conducting. Bruckner’s music had transfixed him since he was a boy.

Faith

Anton Bruckner did not have it easy as a composer. Appointed late in life and plagued by constant self-doubt, he often reworked his compositions several times. Neither was he initially well-received by the public: the premiere of his 7th symphony turned into a veritable scandal after the audience left the hall in droves. However, his 8th was a triumphant success: the audience applauded enthusiastically after every movement and the composer was praised as “a giant“, “a poet“, “a great genius” by the likes of Hugo Wolf, Hans Richter and Johannes Brahms.


Monumental
In the restrained, introspective coda of the first movement, the music softly fades away, in keeping with the opening of the work. Bruckner described it as a “Totenuhr” (death knell): “It’s as if you are lying on your death-bed and there is a clock hanging on the wall opposite and inexorably ticking away the seconds while your life slowly ebbs away: tick, tock, tick, tock...” Bruckner passed away before he could complete his 9th Symphony, making the 8th, the longest symphony he had ever written, his magnum opus.

"This new 'live' recording from January 2016, featuring the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, certainly reveals all of its musical, as well as philosophical magnitude. From its oddly ominous and foreboding introduction to its devastating coda, the musicians of the orchestra along with Skrowaczewski have an unyielding grasp on its development. In particular, the brass section of the orchestra is amazing on all counts. For example, the rather soft brass choir passages at the end of the Adagio movement are simply breathtaking in their balance and dynamic control.

And here's the clincher. Conductor Stanislaw Skrowaczewski was 92 years old when this live performance took place in Tokyo. And yet he drove the score forward with the agility, energy and power of a 25 year old. Add to all of this the superb Denon audio engineering qualities which capture the depth and breadth of the orchestra, and you're in for a captivating listening experience." - Classical Music Sentinel

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