Who is the best Bruckner interpreter of all-time?

Anton Bruckner

You can't drown, you fool. You're immortal.

Things here are slowly settling back to normal, and with that comes the hope that I’ll be able to re-kindle this blog a little bit with the final embers probably already burned out but still kind of a faint orange color.  I do have some pure gasoline, though, so I hold on to the dream.  By the way, the San Francisco Giants are World Series champs.

Somehow over the last few weeks, someone besides every member of the Giants and the guy who stole our shit has managed to be in my consciousness, and that’s Anton Bruckner.  I’ve found myself listening to the symphonies quite a bit recently, although I don’t entirely know why.  I can’t say they necessarily provide comfort in a time of stress, and they don’t really jive with baseball.  I guess it’s just that they’re really awesome. Continue reading

It’s my prerogative. Wait. Is it my prerogative?

Anton Bruckner

Anton Bruckner circa The Fantastic Moustache Epoch

How much can, or should, a personal choice influence a conductor’s decisions? These kinds of questions are often asked about tempi, dynamics, balances, etc., but what about in the broader context of something like a performing version? How does one, for example, choose to do the Cooke completion of Mahler 10 vs. the Carpenter vs. the Wheeler vs. the Mazzetti? All the research in the world is likely to lead you to the same place: get some guts and pick something already.

This question came into my head recently while being engrossed in Bruckner’s Third Symphony. The murky history of Bruckner’s various performing versions needs little explanation; it’s like trying to decide which Oprah to use based on weight. Short of playing pin-the-tail-on-the-performing-version, conductors are left with mountains of research, counter-research, anecdotes, hearsay, and innuendo to make their calls. Surely, at some point, “I like this one” becomes an acceptable answer. Continue reading