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Seiji Ozawa conducts Bruckner’s First Symphony

31/01/2009

Berliner Philharmoniker
Seiji Ozawa

  • Anton Bruckner
    Symphony No. 1 in C minor (00:53:39)

Anton Bruckner called his First Symphony a "saucy maid" and it is probably true to say that there is more exuberant joie de vivre to be found in this than in any other of the composer's works. In contrast to his later symphonies, he does not yet venture a glimpse into other worlds, but the composer, who was then in his early 40s, self-assuredly taps into the symphonic genre, but not in any way as an imitator of the great predecessors: we can already hear Bruckner's unmistakeable idiom and much original inspiration - from the march-like opening movement and the improvised-sounding Adagio, to the demonic Scherzo. Its culmination is the Finale, where Bruckner combines his outstanding mastery of polyphony with staggering ferocity.

It is hard to believe that, previous to this performance with Seiji Ozawa, the Berliner Philharmoniker had not included this highly original symphony in a concert for a quarter of a century. The magazine KlassikInfo wrote, "Ozawa, the timeless and enigmatic magician at the conductor's stand, emphasised the abrupt contrasts, the primeval outbursts, the darkly-glowing moments of calm and the surprise effects contained in Bruckner's early work ... without overstatement. Conducting from memory and with caring attention to the musicians, shaking the hands of many of them at the end of the performance, Ozawa lead the orchestra through the pitfalls of the score - and was rewarded with an allegiance which was as loyal as it was musical." 

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