Rattle to premiere new version of Bruckner’s 4th

Rattle to premiere new version of Bruckner’s 4th

Orchestras

norman lebrecht

September 15, 2021

Simon Rattle and the LSO will premiere a cleaned-up Bruckner Fourth at the Barbican on September 19th.

Here’s what the publishers say:

The second autograph score of the Fourth (1878–81) represents a peculiarity: Bruckner had changes that were made between October 1880 and December 1881 firstly included into the copy which served as a conducting score. These were then correlated with the parts by the copyists involved, and by them, and not Bruckner himself, transferred back into the autograph score. The Fourth (and later the Seventh) Symphony thus underwent a whole series of retrospective corrections, which in the autograph are not found in Bruckner’s hand, but which he made himself in the copies, or of which he approved. Furthermore, Bruckner discarded the 1878 Finale (»Volksfest«) and added a new composition of it in 1880. The corrections undertaken for the performances of 1880 and 1881 also led to a new copy of the score (1882; by copyist Giovanni Noll), which has the status of an engraver’s copy, for it was offered for publication to renowned music publishers in 1885 and 1886.
The new edition thus set itself the goal of making it equally possible to perform all the differing work phases of the movements of the symphony between 1878 and 1881, at least inasmuch as they can be identified from the sources. 

Comments

  • Fred Funk says:

    Probably had the key signatures, and accidentals printed in bold type for the violas. It’s the little things.

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    I am always astonished by how many versions of Bruckner’s symphonies there are. I think the only one that has never been revised is the Fifth. There is a new book out by William Carnahan published by The Bruckner Society of America that concerns itself with a description of every edition of every symphony.

    • Herr Doktor says:

      It’s not that there are legitimately so many versions. It’s that there are academic musicologists who need to publish and/or find a reason to exist. Virtually none of the “scholarship” that has come out with different editions in recent years has any real meaning or value. And as for Carragan’s “Red Book,” please watch the YouTube video from David Hurwitz, entitled “The Bruckner Cult Gets Its Bible.” Not only is Dave Hurwitz 150% on target, but his talk is one of the funniest things I’ve heard in years from anyone on any subject. Here is the link:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNdEg6TN6F0

    • Hilary says:

      but there’s a very dubious edition of the 5th that I hope has been consigned to oblivion. Recording by Knappertsbush.
      Dave Hurwitz is great at pointing out the idiocy of these editions.

  • Jean says:

    I am already happy with the existing versions, thank you

  • Micaelo Cassetti says:

    Saving the best til last…
    “at least inasmuch as they can be identified from the sources”…
    So not really definitive?
    I love Bruckner, but all the various editions are a bit of a bran-tub.
    If this new ed. is special, then I wish Sir Simon and the pubs all the very best!

  • SMH says:

    There’s a market for this?

  • Philip Farina says:

    I like Bruckner’s music, but who really cares about yet another version of one of his symphonies ?

    • mel says:

      But…but…it’s that viola that comes in a semi-measure early? Or is that someone’s fringerprint — mit Sauerkraut — on the ink?

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    What a confusing hodge-podge that only a Bruckner disciple could love. Bruckner fanatics are crazy about multiple versions and editions. Personally, I refuse to memorize the years. I think a great performance of a non-p.c. version will always top a mediocre or poor performance of an approved, p.c. version.

  • fflambeau says:

    It is as much needed as another recording of Beethoven’s 5th.

    Why not try something new?

  • empedocles says:

    In the photo, what’s in Bruckner’s right hand?

  • J Barcelo says:

    Recording to follow, no doubt. I suppose Brucknerites find it essential to hear every convoluted edition/version of the symphonies, but for me the standard Haas or Nowak are just fine. What is interesting is that the LSO is doing it: British orchestras have never been known as big-time Bruckner bands. Is his music getting more popular there? It’s sure unpopular in the US.

    • Deazelysley says:

      That is interesting as the US, I understand is saturated with Mahler. I tend to think Mahler caters to the weary citizens of the Evil Empire more than than Brucker ever could. Mahler allows a good wallow in the empire’s self-pity.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    I wonder which cleaned-up version he will choose to perform, from among the several versions accessible in the new edition.

  • Gustavo says:

    Probably nothing really new.

    In 2019, Neeme Järvi did “Volksfest” in combination with the standard 4th and “Helgoland” with ENSO and ENMC on a sunny morning in Linz.

    I ripped the radio broadcast after returning home. Would have been a good one for Chandos but with Hrusa’s box set out now and Rattle’s PR-gag based on yet another edition the market seems to be rather saturated.

    But I bet Neeme’s version of the “Volksfest” was the quickest ever performed!

  • I must say I find this somewhat gimmicky (and hopefully John Berky is around to chime in). B4 is not one of the problematic symphonies edition-wise. This is true notwithstanding the fact that B left in effect four versions:

    –the 1874 (ed. Nowak 1975);
    –the 1878/1881 hybrid (ed. Haas 1936);
    –the 1878/1886 hybrid (ed. Nowak 1953); and
    –the 1888 (ed. Korstvedt 2004).

    We know what B’s wishes were, and as a result only the two hybrids are of interest, and the differences between these are minor. What this story reports is a closer look at the nature of the first hybrid, at its genesis. But to what end? We have the Haas, which has served beautifully for eighty years. All that really happened between 1878 (huge revision) and 1881 was that in 1880 B, at the height of his powers, dumped the Volksfest finale and wrote a better one.

  • Scott says:

    Strange writing style. Is this a Google translation?

  • Herr Doktor says:

    It wasn’t as if he had mastered the Nowak edition in his Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra performance. It was an uninvolved and boring performance that had no reason to exist. Hopefully he will do better this time around with an edition that is suspect at best and illegitimate at worst.

    However, my conclusion after years of listening is that Simon Rattle does certain things very well (particularly from the 20th century), but Bruckner is not among them. He would be wise to focus his energies and attentions elsewhere.

  • Brettermeier says:

    Bruckner and the version chaos. Wouldn’t have happened with GitHub. Just saying.

  • Larry W says:

    A cleaned-up Bruckner Fourth? Sounds Romantic.

  • Philip A Kraus says:

    Ludicrous academic edition. Now you can play a Bruckner Symphony just like color by numbers.

  • Corno di Caccia says:

    I wonder how interesting this will be? Although I have many Rattle recordings, I would never put him in my top 5 Bruckner interpreters. His recording of the 7th with the CBSO years back was a flop. His subsequent Bruckner symphony recordings with the Berlin Phil. and the LSO fare better. This may well be a bit ‘gimmicky’ as has already been stated but I would like to hear the gig but can’t get to London. No great loss though as the Barbican is a rubbish acoustic for Bruckner. Hopefully, it will be broadcast on Radio Three at some point.
    As for J. Barcelo’s comment about British Orchestras not being known as ‘big time Bruckner bands’, there are some fine Bruckner recordings with Klaus Tennstedt and the LPO, as well as Otto Klemperer’s with the Philharmonia. Worth hearing.

  • Rob says:

    Bruckner will be turning in his tomb, again.

    You can see his embalmed body here with photos taken in 1921, 1931 and 1996. Just download the zip file to see

    https://www.abruckner.com/editorsnote/features/talesofthecrypt/therepairofantonbr/

    • David K. Nelson says:

      Oh my. Well THAT experience strengthens my resolve to be cremated. He looked somewhat more vivacious and conversational in 1931 than 1921, but then, Bruckner was one of those folks who looked somewhat dead even when he was still very much alive.

  • mel says:

    This is version number what now? Oh my goodness, 2 seconds longer in the 2nd movement! Oh dear, I hear the viola! Damn the publishers!

    And yes, let’s record it! Let’s ignore 99% of other excellent composers’ works and record YET another version of a “version” of a Bruckner symphony.

  • Gustavo says:

    Zoom in on Bruckner’s left hand and turn your device clockwise by 90 degrees to see what he thinks of the new edition.

  • Andrew Condon says:

    I somehow doubt that yet another version of this symphony – let alone a “do-it-yourself” version – is going to catch on with the wider public. As mentioned above, David Hurwitz posted a video on his excellent YouTube channel about all this nonsense a couple of days ago – well worth catching, and really nothing more need be said. As for the forthcoming CD release, I think I’ll stick with Karl Böhm and the Vienna Phil from 1973 (Decca). Unlikely to be surpassed IMHO

  • Couperin says:

    But wait so did Hrusa get scooped because of this “fourth” version? He and Bamburger just dropped a recording of three versions of the 4th, plus some helpful isolated excerpts for easy comparison. Pretty cool presentation I think, whether you suffer from Bruckneritus or not.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/17/arts/music/symphony-bruckner-hrusa-bamberg.html

  • Gijs van der Meijden says:

    Oh my, another ‘version’ of the Fourth! There seems to be no end of versions, variants, intermediates and adaptions of Bruckner’s symphonies; if one were to wish to record all of them, there would be quite a stack of CDs!

    My main problem is that, while there are indeed different versions of many of Bruckner’s symphonies, there now seems to be some sort of contest to bring out yet another variant which, no matter how minute the difference with somemother variant, is presented as something excitingly new and truly different. While the problem of ‘Bruckner and his Versions’ is complex, I do take the risk of providing an amateur’s opinion of my own regarding the Fourth, along with – no doubt inadequate – argumentation.

    The Fourth is about one-and-a-half symphony. The first version of 1874 is, in the case of the first and second movement, comparable to the second version of 1888, but the 1874 Scherzo and Finale are totally different movements from the 1888 Scherzo and Finale. So, to hear ALL of Bruckner’s 4th Symphony, you need to hear both versions! The separate 1878 ‘Volksfest’ Finale is a sort of reworking of the 1874 Finale, and could be swapped for the 1874 Finale if one wants to present it. I’d admit the 1874 Finale is weaker than the 1888 Finale, but I would not want to miss the 1874! The 1888 (‘Hunting’) Scherzo is a nice piece, but for me it is too close to wanting to be a kind of symphonic poem; the 1874 Scherzo has its weak spots as well, but is more truly Bruckner I feel.

    The new variant to be premiered by Rattle is, I think, and to put it mildly, of less importance. With all the material at hand, you could play some 7 or 8 different ‘Versions’, but to me, there are basically two (quite different!) Symphonies no. 4, each of which is important to know, but these two are indeed enough!

  • Gijs van der Meijden says:

    Oh my, another ‘version’ of the Fourth! There seems to be no end of versions, variants, intermediates and adaptions of Bruckner’s symphonies; if one were to wish to record all of them, there would be quite a stack of CDs!

    My main problem is that, while there are indeed different versions of many of Bruckner’s symphonies, there now seems to be some sort of contest to bring out yet another variant, and then present it as something excitingly and truly different.

    While the ‘versions problem’ is complex, I do take the risk of providing an amateur’s opinion of my own, along with its – no doubt inadequate – argumentation.

    The Fourth Symphony is about one-and-a-half symphony. The first version of 1874 is, in the case of the first and second movement, comparable to the second version of 1888, but the 1874 Scherzo and Finale are totally different movements from the 1888 Scherzo and Finale. So, to hear ALL of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony, you need to hear both versions!

    The separate 1878 ‘Volksfest’ Finale is a sort of reworking of the 1874 Finale, and could be swapped for the 1874 Finale if one wants to present it. I’d admit the 1874 Finale is weaker than the 1888 Finale, but I would not want to miss the 1874! The 1888 (‘Hunting’) Scherzo is a nice piece, but for me too close to wanting to be a kind of symphonic poem; the 1874 Scherzo has its weak spots as well, but is more truly Bruckner I feel.

    The new variant to be premiered by Rattle is, I think, and to put it mildly, of less importance. With all the material at hand, you could play some 7 or 8 different ‘Versions’, but to me, there are basically two (quite different!) Symphonies no. 4, each of which is important to know, but which then are enough!

  • Gaffney Feskoe says:

    I apologize for mistaking William Carragan’s name in my post.

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