2 CD - 82876 60749 2 - (p) 2004

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)

Symphony No. 5 in B flat 73' 08" 73' 08"
Score and revision report edited by Robert Haas (1935) & Leopold Nowak (score corr. 1951 & 1989, revision report 1985), Complete Critical Edition of the Works of Anton Bruckner, Vienna

- I Satz: Introduction: Adagio - Allegro
20' 34"
- II Satz: Adagio. Sehr langsam 14' 57"
- III Satz: Scherzo. Molto vivace (Schnell) - Trio. Im gleichen Tempo 13' 35"
- IV Satz: Finale: Adagio - Allegro moderato 23' 59"

Excerpts from the rehearsals June 7 & 8, 2004, Musikverein, Vienna
74' 49" 74' 49"
- [1, Satz, Takt 1-22] - "Vor den Sechzehnteln bitte wegfedern!"
2' 46"
- [1. Satz, T. 161-224] - "Die Synkopen so, als würden wir mit Ellenbogen gegen dieses Legato gehen"
4' 38"
- [1. Satz, T. 315-319, 325-327, 381-398] - "Kann ich einmal nur diesen kleinen, ganz schnellen Holz-Kanon haben?" 1' 58"
- [2. Satz, T. 31-38, 107-124] - "Gehen wir bitte gleich zum zweiten Satz, und zwar wo er eigentlich anfängt, Takt 31." 4' 12"
- [2. Satz, T. 163-196, 203-201] - "Von 169 bis 170, diese Harmoniefolge, die kommt aus dem Mozart Requiem: 'Qua resurget ex favilla homo reus'." 8' 57"
- [2. Satz, T. 1-18, 39-70] - "So, jetz gehen wir zu dem Anfang vom dem Satz." 3' 24"
- [2. Satz, T. 71-84, 101-144, 195-202] - "Geben Sie mir bitte einmal nur die Triolen, nur Streicher von, D'." 4' 44"
- [3. Satz, Scherzo, T. 1-39, 133-187] - "Ich hätte gern wirklich so einen magischen Schnelltanz." 6' 25"
- [3. Satz, Scherzo, T. 341-382; Trio, T. 1-55] - "Können Sie ein bisschen so eine oberösterreichische Melancholie hineinbringen?" 2' 36"
- [3. Satz, Trio, T. 56-149; Scherzo da Capo, T. 1-132] - "Jetzt spielen Sie bitte wirklich, Um-pa'!" 6' 28"
- [4. Satz, T. 1-22, 29-36, 67-82] - "Es muss die, Eins' immer sehr energisch sein und die 'Zwei' etwas weniger." 7' 01"
- [4. Satz, T. 83-136, 137-165] - "Tutti von 'Etwas mehr langsm'." 5' 41"
- [4. Satz, T. 175-210, 223-231] - "Stellen, Sie sich zu dem Choral einen Txt vor: 'Was Gott tut, das ist wohl getan'." 3' 34"
- [4. Satz, T. 310-340] - "Jeder von diesen Einsätzen muss klingen, als wäre er eine, Eins'." 2' 59"
- [4. Satz, T. 362-373, 450-499, 500-635] - "Schön wäre es, wenn man eine totale Erschöpfung hört auf diesem 'Des'." 9' 24"

Wiener Philharmoniker
Nikolaus Harnoncourt
Luogo e data di registrazione
Musikverein, Vienna (Austria) - 7-14 giugno 2004
Registrazione live / studio
Producer / Engineer
Martin Sauer / Michael Brammann / Christian Leins
Prima Edizione CD
RCA "Red Seal" - 82876 60749 2 - (1 sacd + 1 cd) - 73' 08" + 74' 49" - (p) 2004 - DDD
Prima Edizione LP

When Bruckner began work on his B-flat Symphony on 14th February 1875, he was busy getting established in Vienna and improving his professional situation. He had already written six symphonies (including two works in F minor and D minort hat he later annulled). At the time he started work on what was to become his Symphony No.5, he was trying in vain to get his Third and Fourth Symphonies performed, and also to obtain a permanent position at the University of Vienna. His endeavours in the latter direction culminated on 8th November in a Pyrrhic victory: he was given an unpaid post as a lecturer in harmony and counterpoint. The following year he applied unsuccessfully for the position of Second Kapellmeister at the Vienna court, and in 1877 he was once again turned down as successor to the Kapellmeister himself Johann Herbeck. Thus he was in a frame of mind where he felt under some pressure to prove his abilities to musical and academic circles. This much is evident from his maiden speech at Vienna University, which he drafted on 25th November 1875. In the speech, he defined a “musical architecture” and a “musical science” that “dissects its entire artistic construction down to the very atoms, grouping the elements according to certain laws, and whose “foundations and soul... form the noble theory of harmony and counterpoint. One cannot help but be particularly struck by his insistence that “complete knowledge of the above-mentioned musical architecture” is needed to be able to "correctly translate one’s ideas into music, to bring them to life". Regrettably, Bruckner's achievement in this regard was to remain unrecognised by posterity for many years. It is true that the theoretical foundations of Bruckner's music have gradually been brought to light since the Bruckner Institute was set up in 1978, but there are still deficits here in both musicological research and performing practice.
Just how meticulously Bruckner himself followed such processes can be seen from an event unique in the annals of music history: after he had completed the provisional score of the Fifth on 16th May 1876, he set about thoroughly revising Symphonies Nos. 1 through 4, producing new versions of all four works. He devoted particular attention to the weighting resulting from bar grouping: in his important study Metrik und Form bei Bruckner, Wolfgang Grandjean showed recently that Bruckner made progressive use of the traditional rules of composition for all bar periods and harmonic progressions, actually developing these rules to suit his personal needs. What`s more, Bruckner attended the première of Der Ring des Nibelungen in the new Bayreuth Festspielhaus from 14th to 17th August and experienced at first hand Wagner’s huge orchestra and its new sound. The impression he took away from Bayreuth with him prompted him to rethink his own concept of orchestral sound balance, especially regarding the instrumentation of the brass and woodwind. He also acquired his own style of “nuancing", as he called it, and henceforth added to his scores concrete instructions for bowstrokes, characteristic accents, articulation and tempo modifications that he had hardly bothered about at all hitherto. Only once he had completed all these revisions in the Finale of the Fourth on 30th September did Bruckner also finish the final version of the Fifth Symphony on 4th November 1878 - the ‘finishing touch’ was his signature on the copy that he dedicated to the Minister of Education, Karl Ritter von Stremayr, who had paved the way for Bruckner’s academic career.
The meticulous attention that the composer paid to musical detail is evident in the highly complex score of the Fifth, where there are even passages set in tenfold counterpoint. Some notes even have as many as four performing instructions at the same time! This lends credibility to Bruckner's comment that he “wouldn’t write anything like this again for all the tea in China“. However, thanks to a tragic twist in the story, the composer never heard the fruits of his labours himself: when Franz Schalk finally gave the symphony its belated first performance on 10th April 1394 in Graz, ill health prevented Bruckner from attending. Thank goodness, for at least he also never got to know the mangled arrangement that Schalk had made of the work behind his back and had even incorporated into the first printed edition, upon which subsequent performances were then based for a good 40 years. The original score of the Fifth, which Robert Haas published in 1933, more or less put an end to this practice. In the meantime, the Fifth is not performed quite as often as the Fourth or Seventh Symphonies, but it still indisputably occupies the 'pole position' for any examination of Bruckner’s work.
The reactions were all the more surprised and indignant, when Manfred Wagner explained at the 1982 Bruckner Symposium in Linz why no recording of the Fifth had appeared to date “that would be recommendable as a perfect example of a faithful performance of Bruckner's score". The respected musicologist had noticed - as had the conductor Hans Swarowsky before him - to what degree Bruckner's music was indebted to Viennese Classical tradition, to the musical dialogue and the emotional expression of 18th century church music. This includes the principle of making the tempi of the individual movements or sections of movements relate to each other in specific proportions. Bruckner often used rhythm to underline such connections; thus the way is already ‘prepared’ for the syncopes of the third subiect in the opening movement towards the end ofthe ‘Gesangsperiode
(Bruckner’s own term, denoting a cantabile period). This indicates a shared tempo. What is more, Bruckner's alternating design of the main theme and the introductory theme in the development shows that the ‘Allegro’ of the main movement is intended to be twice as fast as the ‘Adagio’ of the introduction. In practice, however, such basic requirements are often ignored - especially by Bruckner conductors who have remained attached to the questionable traditions of the first printed scores with their revisions of the composer’s manuscripts. They have had a significant infuence on performing practice.
The key to an inner understanding of the symphony is actually provided by Süßmayr’s completion of the Mozart Requiem, which held great importance for Bruckner: his own first major work was a Requiem in D minor (WAB 39/1849), which only too clearly takes its cue from the Mozart as far as length, character and thematics are concerned. From the pocket diaries published by Elisabeth Maier we know that Bruckner made a thorough study of the part-writing of its strings and choral parts, and also of the continuo in Mozart’s Requiem, before he completed the Fifth Symphony in the summer of 1877. A diary entn/ for 2nd November 1885 suggests that the composer had been practising an annual ritual of mourning since 1870: every year on All Souls Day he first heard the Mozart Requiem in the Hofkapelle, and then drove to the Währingen Cemetery to visit his sister Anna’s grave on the one hand, and those of Beethoven and Schubert on the other. On Easter Sunday 1891 he talked about his favourite works of music to Karl Waldeck and other friends - Beethoven's Eroica, Wagner`s Götterdämmerung and the Mozart Requiem. Just a couple of months later Bruckner attended the Salzburg Mozart Festival from 15th to 17th July, where he even improvised on themes from the Requiem after a performance in the Kollegienkirche. As late as 1892 the self-critical master still found his own setting of the Requiem, little played nowadays, to be “notbad”...
Many musicologists have investigated Mozart’s influence on Bruckner's church music and symphonies. And in the early stages of academic research into Bruckner's œuvre, the possibility was discussed that with his idea of incorporating a double fugue into the last movement of the Fifth Symphony, Bruckner was actually following the example of the Jupiter Symphony. It is true, however, that many other works on which Bruckner modelled his own music also contain fugues in the Finale - for example, Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, Beethoven’s Ninth, Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony and Liszt’s Faust Symphony. What would seem far more important is actually Mozart’s forward-looking treatment of the thematic material in the Requiem, where the theme of the Introitus and other motifs are treated in a manner nothing short of Brucknerian. As early as 1922, the composer Armin Knab showed, in an analysis that attracted considerable interest, how Bruckner derives the themes of all the movements in the Fifth from a common base which is successively evolved from the introduction to the first movement, and in which the Requiem theme plays an important role (as can be seen from a comparison of the bass notes in the first two bars). This tribute to Mozart goes far beyond everyday quotation technique, and with the Requiem theme as its principal idea, it plays a central role in the symphony.
Bruckner’s Fifth unfolds before the listener like a winged altar triptych: the Finale has the character of a ‘development’ of the opening movement, while Adagio and Scherzo refer to each other and use the same thematic material in a manner unique in Bruckner’s work. Hartmut Krones has emphasised that Bruckner used the key of B flat major in his works in line with the key characteristics laid out in Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart’s influential Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst (Ideas for an Aesthetics of Music), Vienna 1806. According to Schubart, B flat stands for “Lighthearted love, a good conscience, hope and the search for a better world“. Compositions by Bruckner that correspond to this characterisation are the Magnificat (WAB 24), the setting of Psalm 112 Lobet den Herrn (WAB 35) and a handful of Tantum ergo hymns. In contrast, Bruckner’s favourite key of D minor traditionally stands for mysteries and divine sublimity, but also explicitly for the Requiem idea - the latter particularly in view of a surviving sketch in D minor for the beginning of another setting of the mass for the dead, which dates from the time when the composer was starting work on the Fifth Symphony (WAB 141/1875).
So it is certainly no mistake to describe the Fifth, which different authors have called ‘Catholic’, ‘Phantastic
or even ‘Gothic’, as actually a ‘Sinfonia Caratteristica’ with an ‘infra-musical’ programme that expresses how faith can overcome the fear of death. The listener familiar with the semantic meaning of the motifs used will find many examples of this, e.g. the chorale with pizzicato accompaniment as a symbol for inner reflection and prayer, the quotation of Mozart’s Requiem line “qua resurget ex favilla" in the Adagio (bar 169), or the idea of a double fugue with a ‘coagmentatio’ of the themes from the fugue and the first movement as a symbol for divine order. To these examples must be added many topoi familiar from Bruckner's settings of the Mass, especially the string figure of the Resurrexit in the reappearance of the Finale chorale that forms the overwhelming conclusion. Seen in this light, Bruckner's Fifth is an unsurpassed masterpiece of combined musical and academic theory in practice.
Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs, 2004
English translations: Clive Williams, Hamburg

Nikolaus Harnoncourt (1929-2016)
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