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Volkmar Andreae Conducts Bruckner

Bruckner / Vso / Andreae
Release Date: 09/08/2009 
Label:  Music & Arts Programs Of America Catalog #: 1227   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Anton Bruckner
Performer:  Gottlob FrickAlois ForrerAnton DermotaEmmy Loose
Conductor:  Volkmar Andreae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 9 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 8 Hours 47 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BRUCKNER Symphonies: Nos. 1–9. Te Deum Volkmar Andreae, cond; Emmy Loose (sop); Hildegard Rössel-Majdan (alt); Anton Dermota (ten); Gottlob Frick (bs); Singverein der Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde Wien; Vienna SO MUSIC & ARTS 1227, mono (9 CDs: 527:02) Broadcast: Vienna 1–2/1953


The name Volkmar Andreae (1879–1962) may be unfamiliar to most Fanfare readers, but in his time the Swiss conductor was one of the most important proponents of Bruckner’s Read more music. Andreae was born in Berne, and as a young musician he often played piano for Brahms, a friend of Andreae’s parents. After studies in Cologne (1897–1900) and a two-year stint as a répétiteur at the Munich Opera, Andreae returned to Switzerland and worked as a choral conductor in Winterthur and Zürich.


Andreae then attended a concert that completely altered the focus of his career. As he explained in 1951: “It all started when I heard Richard Strauss conducting Bruckner’s Third Symphony with the Berlin Tonkuenstler Orchestra at Zürich in 1902. . . . Deeply impressed by the music of Bruckner, I decided to dedicate my life to the service of the Austrian composer, who had died a few years before, virtually unknown outside of his native country. Since I assumed the post of musical director of the Zürich Tonhalle in 1906, I have introduced at least one Bruckner symphony every year. By 1911, I had performed all of them and from then on I regularly conducted all nine symphonies in each three-year period. Three times I have led all of them in a single season. Some I have directed more than forty times.” During his very lengthy tenure (1906–49) at the Zürich Tonhalle, Andreae was also head of the Zürich Conservatory (1914–39) and kept active as a composer (his chamber works have a distinctly Brahms-like flavor).


There are perhaps two main reasons why Andreae is not better known today: his aversion to making studio recordings (“I hate canned music”) and an apparent lack of interest in developing an international career. However, this was not due to lack of demand for his talents or unwillingness to travel. Again, as he wrote in 1951: “I regret deeply that I have not yet had a chance to present Anton Bruckner to musical audiences in the United States. When Gustav Mahler, who had heard one of my concerts, invited me to be his successor as conductor of the New York Philharmonic, I was unable to obtain a leave of absence from the Swiss Army, of which I was an officer.”


This cycle of Bruckner’s nine numbered symphonies comes from radio broadcasts made for RAVAG (Radio Verkehrs AG) in the Soviet zone of then-occupied Vienna. All of them were taped in multiple sessions during January-February 1953. Andreae’s Bruckner style can be described as very direct, urgently swift, uncommonly lyrical, and expressive, with climaxes that are incredibly dramatic. All of these attributes exude a profound grasp of the music’s structure and a total familiarity with every musical nuance in the scores.


The CD booklet’s illuminating essay by Mark W. Kluge notes: “[T]he playing in the broadcast cycle is of higher order than we have sometimes heard on record from the Vienna Symphony, indicating that ample rehearsal time was allocated. Balances are by and large just (the horns are occasionally backward), and one often marvels at the transparent layers of scoring detail that Andreae reveals . . . There are few instances of audible splices in the original recordings. We can thus infer that the music was recorded in long takes or complete movements. In combination with the concentrated span during which the recordings were made, this leads to an overall impression of unified, distilled conception and realization—possibly unique among recorded Bruckner cycles.” As for the sound, these transfers by Aaron Z. Snyder are uniformly excellent and clearly better than the previous issues of Nos. 1 and 2 (Amadeo LPs) and No. 4 (on CDs from Orfeo and Bearac); Nos. 3, 5–9 and the Te Deum here are first-ever releases.


Due to review space restrictions, what follows must be only a quick list of the texts used by Andreae, short verdicts on the performances, and abbreviated references to a few other recordings of the same editions by other conductors born during Bruckner’s lifetime.


Symphony No. 1 (1877 “Linz” version, 1935 Haas edition). This recording, when on an Amadeo LP, was my “imprint” version of the work, along with Andreae’s 1951 studio account with the Lower Austrian Tonkuenstler Orchestra (issued on a Masterseal LP that used the later “Vienna” version of 1891). This wonderfully agile and sensitively inflected 1953 reading is still my favorite Bruckner First.


Symphony No. 2 (1877 version, 1938 Haas edition). Andreae here uses the Haas edition, but omits all the sections added by Haas from the original 1872 manuscript. He also plays only the brief first repeats in the Scherzo and Trio. I still prefer the complete Haas edition in this work. Despite its questionable musicology, that edition restores many gorgeous passages from the original, such as a recollection of the work’s opening in the finale, and it uses a horn solo in the Adagio’s coda (the later Nowak edition employs a less eloquent clarinet). Andreae’s account is a winner in all respects. For the full Haas edition (with all Scherzo/Trio repeats) my preference is the 1956 Rosbaud/Southwest German Radio (a private tape) that’s in great need of commercial CD release. Rosbaud recorded Symphonies Nos. 2–9, but most of them have never been issued.


Symphony No. 3 (1889 version, 1890 Rättig edition). The dramatic 1953 account is even finer than the 1955 Andreae/VSO that was issued long ago on an Epic LP (it was the conductor’s second and last Bruckner studio recording). The 1953 provides a more expressive Adagio and doesn’t have the awful “pre-echo” that afflicted the LPs. It’s one of my two favorites in the Rättig edition, along with the much slower but very potent live 1962 Knappertsbusch/NDR Hamburg (M & A 1028). The 1965 Schuricht (now on a Medici CD reviewed elsewhere) is not interpretively as compelling as what’s heard from Andreae and Kna, but it has stereo sound, a great orchestra (the Vienna Philharmonic), and divided violins that reveal some intriguing antiphonal effects.


Symphony No. 4 (1878/80 version, 1936 Haas edition). This very rustic reading is one of my special favorites, along with the still unpublished 1961 Rosbaud, the late 1960s live Heger/Berlin (Maximas), and the live 1966 Klemperer/Bavarian Radio (EMI). Both of the last two use the very slightly different Nowak edition.


Symphony No. 5 (1878 version, 1935 Haas edition). Andreae apparently employs extra brass players as reinforcements in the finale’s magnificent chorale. This causes the pace to slow down a bit more than I prefer, but the result is hugely exciting. My favorite mono Fifths are the 1963 Schuricht/VPO (deleted DG), this one from Andreae, and the live 1942 Furtwängler (M & A). In stereo, there is a rather grand live 1968 Klemperer/VPO in a multi-disc set (Testament) that benefits from the use of divided violins.


Symphony No. 6 (1881 version, 1935 Haas edition). Andreae’s deft handling of tempos puts his Sixth among the finest ever recorded; it’s one of the major highlights of this set. Other “collectible” accounts: the incomplete Furtwängler (M & A, sans first movement), the 1964 Klemperer (EMI), the impassioned 1964 Heinz Bongartz/Leipzig Gewandhaus (Berlin Classics, despite a too-bright CD transfer), and the sui generis 1952 Adler/VSO, which uses the 1899 Hynais edition (deleted Tahra).


Symphony No. 7 (1885 version, 1885 Gutmann edition). Andreae is one of only two conductors I’ve heard to observe a slower tempo for the first movement’s third subject as per the early score’s metronome markings (the other is Klemperer). The Adagio has a thrilling climax, and the last measures are quite moving. This is now one of my two top choices in the Gutmann Seventh, along with the deeply felt 1964 stereo Schuricht/Hague Philharmonic (Japanese Denon), where divided violins pay big dividends in the Adagio.


Symphony No. 8 (1892 version, 1892 Lienau edition). Andreae sticks with the first published edition, as do the 1951 Knappertsbusch/Berlin Philharmonic (M & A) and the valedictory 1954 Furtwängler/VPO (Andante or Opus Kura). All three are wonderful.


Symphony No. 9 (1894 version, 1932 Orel edition). Andreae here delivers a powerful, forward-moving first movement and an altogether stunning Scherzo, but the Adagio is a little on the fast side for my taste. The extraordinary live 1944 Furtwängler (M & A) remains my personal favorite, but I’m very glad to have the Andreae too.


Te Deum (1885 version). Andreae’s perfectly paced conducting and a terrific team of vocalists make this my new Desert Island account. A joyous conclusion to a great set!


For those who can tolerate mono sound and occasionally scrappy execution, this set from one of Bruckner’s greatest advocates will be a source of enduring pleasure. I suspect that the style of playing heard here, with its tremendous vitality, discreet but lovely echt-Wien string portamento, and sheer poetry of nuance is about as close as we’ll ever get to what Bruckner’s music sounded like during the composer’s lifetime. This set warrants the very highest recommendation.


FANFARE: Jeffrey J. Lipscomb
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in C minor, WAB 101 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Volkmar Andreae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1865/1891; Linz, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1952-01/1953 
Length: 42 Minutes 26 Secs. 
2.
Symphony no 2 in C minor, WAB 102 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Volkmar Andreae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872-1876; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1952-01/1953 
Length: 50 Minutes 17 Secs. 
3.
Symphony no 3 in D minor, WAB 103 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Volkmar Andreae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1952-01/1953 
Length: 50 Minutes 8 Secs. 
4.
Symphony no 4 in E flat major, WAB 104 "Romantic" by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Volkmar Andreae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1874; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1952-01/1953 
Length: 60 Minutes 27 Secs. 
5.
Symphony no 5 in B flat major, WAB 105 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Volkmar Andreae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875-1876; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1952-01/1953 
Length: 68 Minutes 29 Secs. 
6.
Symphony no 6 in A major, WAB 106 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Volkmar Andreae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879-1881; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1952-01/1953 
Length: 50 Minutes 7 Secs. 
7.
Symphony no 7 in E major, WAB 107 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Volkmar Andreae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881-1883; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1952-01/1953 
Length: 58 Minutes 24 Secs. 
8.
Symphony no 8 in C minor, WAB 108 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Volkmar Andreae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1952-01/1953 
Length: 72 Minutes 10 Secs. 
9.
Symphony no 9 in D minor, WAB 109 by Anton Bruckner
Conductor:  Volkmar Andreae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891-1896; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1952-01/1953 
Length: 50 Minutes 13 Secs. 
10.
Te Deum in C major, WAB 45 by Anton Bruckner
Performer:  Gottlob Frick (), Alois Forrer (Organ), Anton Dermota (),
Emmy Loose ()
Conductor:  Volkmar Andreae
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881-1884; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/1952-01/1953 
Length: 20 Minutes 14 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 1 in C minor, WAB 101 (1877 Linz version, ed. R. Haas): I. Allegro
Symphony No. 1 in C minor, WAB 101 (1877 Linz version, ed. R. Haas): II. Adagio
Symphony No. 1 in C minor, WAB 101 (1877 Linz version, ed. R. Haas): III. Scherzo: Schnell
Symphony No. 1 in C minor, WAB 101 (1877 Linz version, ed. R. Haas): IV. Finale: Bewegt, feurig
Symphony No. 2 in C minor, WAB 102 (1877 version, ed. R. Haas): I. Ziemlich schnell
Symphony No. 2 in C minor, WAB 102 (1877 version, ed. R. Haas): II. Andante: Feierlich, etwas bewegt
Symphony No. 2 in C minor, WAB 102 (1877 version, ed. R. Haas): III. Scherzo: Schnell
Symphony No. 2 in C minor, WAB 102 (1877 version, ed. R. Haas): IV. Finale: Mehr schnell

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