Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bruckner and Adams

I haven't written anything recently about the life of an orchestral musician. Since that's one of purposes of this blog, I'd like to make amends.

Today I'd like to write about some of the weird things that happen when orchestras choose concert programs.

The concerts for this weekend and next consist solely of works by Anton Bruckner and John Adams.

Next weekend the Cleveland Orchestra plays four concerts in Avery Fisher Hall in New York as part of the Lincoln Center Festival

The programs explore a link between the music of Bruckner with that of Adams -- a linkage most people wouldn't readily make. Follow the link above and listen to Franz Welser-Moest to judge for yourself.  Franz considers Bruckner "the Grandfather of Minimalism".

He is a champion of both composers. Adams is one of the few American composers he regularly programs. His interpretations of Bruckner's symphonies rank among the best I've heard either on record or in performance.

Wed., July 13 at 8:00
ADAMS: Guide to Strange Places
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 5 in B-flat major

Thu., July 14 at 8:00
ADAMS: Violin Concerto (Leila Josefowicz)
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E Major
Sat., July 16 at 8:00
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 8 in C Minor
Sun., July 17 at 2:00
ADAMS: Doctor Atomic Symphony
BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor

As is customary, we will perform most of these works here in Clevleand just before leaving for New York. The programming for the week or two prior to a tour can be very strange, however.

In this case, our audiences at the Blossom Music Center

will hear music not really suited to an outdoor, open air concert atmosphere. In the best circumstances Bruckner's massive sounds and pregnant pauses and Adam's driving, repetitive rhythms make for challenging, but rewarding listening .

At Blossom we have lots of wonderful bird sounds and the occasional screaming child as occasional background to the music. Audiences there are usually treated to more traditional programming: Tchaikovsky concertos, rousing overtures, flashy soloists, etc.

It has not been a venue for contemporary music or Bruckner.  However, this weekend is a trial run for the tour. I hope our loyal audiences will be forgiving!

The Cleveland Orchestra has played Bruckner's symphonies in his hometown of Linz, Austria in the abbey church where Bruckner is buried and where he was the organist. There is about an 8-second reverb in the church.

In an acoustic like this one can really understand all the silences and pauses in his music. However, these are swallowed up in a concert hall, drowned out in an outdoor venue.

It will be interesting to read the critical reception of our NYC concerts to see if the Bruckner/Adams linkage is accepted. 

What are your thoughts, gentle reader?

1 comment:

  1. Well, I have heard a couple of Bruckner symphonies played in churches, and you can really hear he had it in mind.

    Sorry that you have to play it though. It is great music to listen to, but as a bassoonist there are few things that are more boring. I remember playing bruckner 6, and in the bassoon part there was one thing that you could possibly hear (a couple of semibreves together with 2nd trombone), and the person that played it before had written "Big moment of fame".

    Adams on the other hand is usually full of stuff to do :)