Wednesdays in September
Two of Austria’s classical greats meet in this series of September premieres: conductor Franz Welser-Möst leads the Cleveland Orchestra in five interpretations of Anton Bruckner’s best-known symphonies. Ansfelden-born Bruckner is renowned for his contribution to the advancement of the symphonic genre. At a time when many composers were intimidated by Beethoven’s impact on the symphonic form, Anton Bruckner decided to dedicate the majority of his composing efforts to it. Today, the typical structure of Bruckner's symphonies is often regarded as an extension of that of Beethoven's symphonies. Applaud the musicianship of the Cleveland Orchestra as it presents Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4, No. 5, No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9 under the baton of music director and Bruckner expert Franz Welser-Möst on Wednesdays in September.
Bruckner - Symphony No. 4
Wednesday, 2 September
When it comes to shaping a musical event for the ears and the eyes, the monumental majesty of Anton Bruckner’s (1824-1896) symphonies and the exhilarating vibrancy of St. Florian’s monastery are a perfect match – especially when they are captured on film so thrillingly by such an eminent director as Brian Large in 2012. Bruckner became acquainted with the monastery’s organ in his childhood and served as the organist there from 1845 to 1855. Welser-Möst, the principal conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra and General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera, is an acknowledged Bruckner specialist who has developed a passion for the composer’s Fourth Symphony – called the “Romantic” by its creator – in its infrequently played first edition (1888/89). More slender, dynamic and finely shaded than the more commonly performed version, this score is also more daring, with its sharper contrasts and boldly exposed dissonances. Recorded at the St. Florian Monastery in Austria, in 2012.
Bruckner - Symphony No. 5
Wednesday, 9 September
Bruckner's Fifth Symphony has been called the "Medieval" because of its multi-layered, Baroque, contrapuntal tonal textures and the "Catholic" because of its solemn majesty. These designations are uniquely fitting to the work, Bruckner himself called it his "Fantastic," especially when it is performed at the Monastery of St. Florian, as on this recording. It is not without reason that Bruckner also called the Fifth his "contrapuntal masterpiece." Indeed, the incredible prominence of the finale arises from an almost fanatical contrapuntal interplay that bundles together the structures of the entire symphony into one homogeneous form and leads them together into a grandiose double fugue that is unique even for Bruckner. Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director of both The Cleveland Orchestra and the Zurich Opera, brought his U.S. ensemble to St. Florian in September 2006 for performances at the Linz Brucknerfest. Bruckner wrote the Fifth in 1875/76, but the work was not premiered until 1894, after it had undergone many revisions by the composer.
Bruckner - Symphony No. 7
Wednesday, 16 September
Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Cleveland Orchestra in a performance of Bruckner's Symphony No. 7. The work occupies a singularly important place in the composer's output. It was with this piece that Bruckner finally achieved widespread recognition and it has remained one of his most popular works. The symphony adheres to the classical four-movement format. The heart of the work is a long and deeply felt Adagio, composed as a memorial to Wagner. The first movement begins with a soaring theme announced by cellos. The Scherzo relieves the somber atmosphere of the preceding Adagio and the Finale concludes the symphony on a note of unrestrained joy. Recorded in Severance Hall, Cleveland in 2008.
Bruckner - Symphony No. 8
Wednesday, 23 September
Considered by Bruckner as the artistic climax of his career, the Symphony No. 8 followed in the wake of the triumphs celebrated by his 7th Symphony and Te Deum. Yet the conductor put aside the original version of the work – which Franz Welser-Möst conducts here – when his friend the conductor Hermann Levi rejected it. The original version was first performed in 1954 and first published in 1972. Recorded live at Cleveland's Severance Hall with The Cleveland Orchestra under its Music Director Franz Welser-Möst, this performance marks the fourth instalment in the orchestra's Bruckner cycle Austrian conductor Franz Welser-Möst has been Music Director of The Cleveland Orchestra since 2002. In addition to his duties in Cleveland, Welser-Möst has been General Music Director of the Vienna State Opera.
Bruckner - Symphony No. 9
Wednesday, 30 September
Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 9 can be seen as a farewell to life. Even as Bruckner began working on it in 1887, his health had begun to fail. He expressed the hope that "God will grant me enough time to complete it," and worked on it assiduously over the next years. But by late 1894 he had completed only the first three movements. When he died on 11 October 1896, he left six different versions of the finale, all of them incomplete. Despite its incompleteness, the work is monumental and evokes the grandeur of a majestic cathedral. The details of this architectural colossus are worked out with astonishing transparency by Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra. The orchestra’s powerfully contoured and sharply profiled interpretation was recorded live in late October 2007 at the magnificent "Golden Hall" of Vienna's fabled Musikverein where the work was given its premiere.