Programme Guide

Anton Bruckner called his First Symphony a “saucy maid”. And in fact, such high-spirited exuberance is not found in any of the composer’s other works. Unlike his later symphonies, in this work Bruckner does not yet venture a look into the worlds beyond; instead, the composer, still in his early 40s and full of self-confidence, explores the symphonic genre. He does not pretend to be the follower of great predecessors, however. We already hear Bruckner’s unmistakable idiom and many original inspirations – from the marchlike first movement to the improvisational, tentative Adagio to the demonic Scherzo. The culmination is the Finale, in which Bruckner combines his excellent command of polyphonic writing with powerful ferocity.

It is difficult to believe that the Berliner Philharmoniker had not performed this original symphony for twenty-five years, until this concert with Seiji Ozawa. The magazine KlassikInfo commented: “Ozawa, the timeless, enigmatic magician at the conductor’s desk, emphasized the sharp contrasts, the forceful outbursts, the darkly fervent moments of calm and the surprise effect of this early work by Bruckner […] without exaggeration. Ozawa guided the orchestra through the pitfalls of the score, conducting from memory and with careful attention to the musicians, shaking hands with many of them at the end – and was rewarded with loyal and strong allegiance.”

Note: Another work heard at this concert was a piano concerto by Felix Mendelssohn, which may not be shown in the Digital Concert Hall for contractual reasons.

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