Since the war, something strange has happened to the performance practice of Bruckner’s symphonies. More and more, conductors have made the monumental, monolithic aspects of Bruckner’s symphonies the defining feature of the music. At their best, there’s a meditative, intoxicating quality to the mesmerically slow speeds of performances by such conductors as Herbert von Karajan and especially Sergiu Celibidache, but with less accomplished maestros, Bruckner is reduced to a weirdly one-dimensional architect of sound. Too often these days, his music is performed by conductors who unthinkingly take their cue from the slow speeds of the school of performance that sees Bruckner as a pseudo-spiritual-guru, as if the music were a static marble sculpture rather than a living, breathing organism.
…Recent recordings by Roger Norrington, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Jonathan Nott have revealed a different side to Bruckner, interpretations that make him a human being rather than a self-annihilating penitent.
But here’s the biggest Brucknerian irony of all. You can experience the most dynamic vision of Bruckner in recorded history in performances given by Wilhelm Furtwängler, including some during the second world war with the Nazi-sponsored Berlin Philharmonic. There’s a performance of the Fifth Symphony from 1942 that is still shockingly intense, vital and energetic. For anyone who thinks Bruckner only wrote slow, static, boa-constricting music, this is the performance to hear. There’s an intensity and wildness Furtwängler finds that flatly contradicts the monolithic vision Hitler and Goebbels had of the composer. It’s an energy and fearlessness today’s conductors need to recover in their approach to Bruckner to do justice to the musical and existential revelations at the heart of each of his symphonies.
Click under season repertoire and use the drop down menu to access 2013-2014. We have some very excited things in store for next year, including Mozart’s Mass in C with early music specialist, Matthew Halls, works for the newly instituted UOCO (University of Oregon Chamber Orchestra-select players by audition each term), and a guest artist from the New York Philharmonic, Jospeh Alessi.
Parts will go up online during the summer – my goal is by August 15. Download, print, and practice:) IMSLP parts for Bruckner are already linked. I can’t wait to get started. See you in September!
Here are some comments for the Dvorak I would like you to put into your part. I’m pleased with the work you have done on this very short cycle. This is truly a “professional” experience (i.e four rehearsals a dress and concert).
Bar 11, more cello sixteenth on the first beat, every uses that rhythm as anchor
Bar 19, shorter 8th notes in low strings
Bar 37, low strings don’t rush
Bar 86, one ob.
Bar 111, more fp in viola
Bar 114, every true pp except oboe
Bar 127, L.P. and strings only mf downbeat of reh. 5
Bar 152, less string acc., delay cresc and don’t get as loud at mf
Bar 158, challenge yourself to play true pp.
Reh 7. Better ensemble between horns and strings passing off triplets
Bar 180, subito p
Bar 285, same as 158 (true pp)
Bar 299, better passing off of rhythm between soloist and horns/bsn
Bar 5-6, pass off quintuplet better between clarinet and oboe. Play even and match.
Bar 24, true pp
Bar 27-28, a bit softer from all, don’t cover soloist.
Bar 57, stronger mf violin I, less volume from everyone else
Bar 83, same as bar 57
Bar 95, celli/bass, don’t accent the entrance of the triplet, instead move toward the principal (last) note. This could probably be softer as well.
Bar 129, shorter, lighter, softer in acc. Strings
Bar 149, drier pizz, viola a bit faster
Bar 23- 26 is pretty sloppy, please practice
Bar 172, less volume please
Bar 315, shorter/lighter 8ths
Bar 347, less orchestra, let violin solo and cello soar
I have tried several new things this year to try to make the UOSO more productive. I would like to get some feedback on what activities you felt were the most helpful in making you perform at your highest level. Please rank these activities by dragging them in order from most helpful to least helpful.
Thanks to all who worked hard preparing for their stand partner test/coaching. Playing regularly with your stand partner can help you better learn to match articulation, sound, pitch, rhythm, etc. I really appreciate your preparation, and hope you found the time beneficial. Also, I thought we had a very fruitful string rehearsal on Friday, and I thank you for your focus and musicianship.
Tomorrow we will only rehearse the first movement of Brahms. Make sure you are prepared! Know every rhythm, make sure you have workable fingerings, practice shifts, observe dynamics, listen to the music with your part in hand, etc. There is so much music to dig into if only we would demand higher expectations for our preparation. I am really looking forward to this journey with you. This music is utterly amazing so let’s pursue art at the highest level. Do it for the composer. Do it for your colleagues. Do it for yourself.