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Welshsox
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Chicago - Bruckner 8

Hi

Watched Haitink conducting Bruckner 8 yesterday.

I wanted to ask a question that sounds really arrogant and as if i know what im talking about, please forgive me that is not my intent.

While i enjoyed the concert i found the composition to be very simplistic compared to others particularly Mahler. Its as if the same musical themes were being repeated to much, it was like quiet loud quiet on a constant basis. I just ddidnt feel any complexity, the other thing ive seen is the more complex peices seem to keep the musicians interested on this peice there seemed to be a very casual approach from particularly the violin players. Am i imaging this ?

Id be interested to hear more expert opinions

Alan

Jan Vigne
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Re: Chicago - Bruckner 8

Not sure what you mean by "simplistic". The 8th is pretty depressing music if you're in the mood for that sort of thing. Lots of repetition and sameness, just as you might experience if you were depressed and finding each day much the same as the last. Just think how much your mind can conjure up when every little thing is constantly the same everyday, every hour and every minute. Certainly not the same as the look at me Mahler's "take no prisoners" approach but you gotta come down sometime.

Mahler has most anyone beat as far as bombast but Bruckner has to be listened to within the concept of Bruckner. Take him at face value and you have one thing. Look deeper into what was happening in Bruckner's life at the time he composed the work and you have something much deeper to consider as you listen and envision what is playing out in front of you.

Is this the first time you've heard Bruckner?

pbarach
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Re: Chicago - Bruckner 8

Just because Mahler and Brucker wrote long symphonies and used large orchestras does not mean that they should be compared. I don't see much fundamental similarity between them. They are more different from each other than that other meaningless pairing of composers, Ravel and Debussy.

Personally, I agree with much of your assessment of Bruckner. loud-soft-loud-soft. Mahler is much more about counterpoint, thematic development from motives, and free variation than Bruckner.

Bruckner was an organist, and when I hear his music, I think of an organist switching from one manual to another to change registrations. There isn't much thematic development other than changing the key. So if you don't like his themes, then you won't like his symphonies--because IMO there isn't much else there. I do happen to like Bruckner 8--but it's the only one of his symphonies that I'd actually pay to hear (because I like the themes--but I might leave after the first movement).

Welshsox
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Re: Chicago - Bruckner 8

Jan

Yes it is the first time ive heard Bruckner.

Let me state right off that these are initial impressions, the thing is though im comparing to initial impressions of others. When ive listend to say Mahler or Mussorgsky the music does have a meaning, im not familiar enough to know what but i sense the emotion. I just did not get that with Bruckner, its almost as if its pop music with a very similar theme. To expand its like say the band Police, you know its a Police even if youve never heard it as basically every song seems to sound the same with different words.

Alan

Jan Vigne
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Re: Chicago - Bruckner 8

I wouldn't disagree with that sentiment. However, as with any artwork that does not reach to your emotions and your intellect in equal amounts, you could say that about any music. Most composers going back to Bach have their themes to explore. Admittedly Bach's and Tchaikovsky's were a bit more complex than Gordon Mathew Thomas Sumners' or Ray Davies' but a composer still tends to draw inspiration from what is happening around him or herself.

I would dare to say Mahler and Mussorgsky insist that you think their music has meaning simply because they rely on overwrought emotions - the soap opera equivalent to great art if their themes don't stir you. But not all art is meant to grab you by the collar and make you pay attention to this or that specific intent. Bruckner is a Leonard Cohen ballad played out in four movements, a late Lenny Bruce monologue in nicer clothes or Catcher in the Rye without the ribald jokes. All those take some work to get to know.

If you're just exploring non-pop style music for the first time, you should continue to explore. You don't get anywhere sitting in one place. But on various occasions it is best to either just begin walking and end where you end or to have a road map to follow. Some of my most rewarding trips have been taken on a whim and others I found after I got to the location and then had the opportunity to explore its background. Some are roadside markers you soon forget and some are photographs you return to to refresh a memory.

I would think a relatively young, healthy person would have difficulties with Bruckner's 8th. (http://hellafrisch.blogspot.com/2005/09/bruckners-8th-symphony.html) Age and experience might be the best preparation for that particular work. It is hell bent on introspection, long stretches where your emotions and imagination are meant to run wild while focussing intently on the arches and swirls of your fingerprints. This isn't music that drags you along for the ride, this is the stuff that glues you to your seat and makes you address themes not often spoken of in Bruckner's time and still seldom addressed with seriousness today. What you have made of your life is what you will make of Bruckner's 8th.

I suppose one of the reasons to like Bruckner is his music always resolves into a reward, the tension is broken and the uplifting catharsis is at the heart of Bruckner. While not the most difficult music by any means Bruckner makes you work within yourself to find a connection that spans the ages. Certainly more "Every Breath You Take" than "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic".

If Bruckner hasn't done it for you, you have two options. You can set it aside and possibly return at a later date. Or you can go looking for why Bruckner wrote as he did during this portion of his life. Nothing says you have to like Bruckner but there are more than a few good reasons to try.

Welshsox
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Re: Chicago - Bruckner 8

Jan

Its not really a case of not liking the music, i enjoyed the concert.

Im trying to form a picture of classical music, its a vast area and every concert seems to add to my understanding in one way or another. The biggest thing ive learnt by far is to throw out any preconceptions

Alan

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