Bruckner’s 7th and this weekend’s recording of Mahler’s 4th – Doug Bauman

I’ve just heard that they will be recording Mahler’s 4th symphony this weekend (Fri/Sun). I like when the PSO records a performance for multiple reasons, not the least of which is that there tends to be less background noise in the theater, they usually request we put forth a ‘wall of silence’. So if you are like me, that makes for more enjoyment of the Orchestra.

Bruckner’s 7th symphony was a massive structure which somehow overwhelmed me. This was my first hearing of this symphony, so please accept my comments with a grain of salt. Several of the movements were very good, and on the whole, I enjoyed the way the Pittsburgh Symphony played this music, a very good performance was the result. Yet when I say overwhelmed, I mean it was loud at times, as if it was loud just to be loud, it didn’t bring a reason or a harmony that I could latch on to. I couldn’t grasp the context. I think perhaps one of my problems was my closeness to the orchestra. If I had been up above, the gallery seats way in the back, I believe I would have enjoyed this experience much more. For a Mozart slow movement, being up front has its advantages, but for this symphony, not so much.
The program notes indicate that Bruckner was a Wagnerite, and to the degree that this music was like Wagner’s I agree, yet I wasn’t left with the same beautiful feeling I get when I listen to just about any of Wagner’s music. There is a certain aspect of Wagner’s scores, something I just can’t describe, which is so beautiful that often I’m left with goosebumps. I didn’t get that with the Bruckner. Yet I know I will return again to Bruckner’s music, because as has happened to me in the past, I have grown to like music that previously left me wanting.
The most enjoyable part of the performance was watching the symphony and the conductor. It was Honeck’s sublime conducting that gave a supreme veneration, his lofty bearing elevated my enjoyment as I watched the fluid motions of his arms and baton.
Part of the display at Heinz Hall associated with Beethoven’s hearing loss:

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