War of the Romantics Part XI. Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)
Bruckner is a sort of missing link in the chain of German symphonic composers, who is now rarely mentioned because of the amazing capabilities of those who came before and after him. The line started by Haydn had evolved through Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, and Brahms, with radical composers like Berlioz and Liszt doing various other things. Bruckner followed the path of the former romantic composers, basing his compositions off of Beethoven's 4th, 7th, and 8th Symphonies; 4-movement works rich in romantic ideas and harmonies, but lacking the more descriptive programme-music favored by Liszt and Berlioz.
Brahms had based his 4 symphonies off of the model left by Beethoven, and changed a little from the existing model. Bruckner took what was left by Brahms, and again changed a little, this time making the orchestra larger, the harmonies more chromatic, the emotion more intense. He also adopted habits of Wagner in writing brass-heavy music and by including Wagner Tubas in some of his works. Needless to say, Brahms and his followers were irritated by this out of their hate for Wagner. Still, like Brahms, Bruckner was preoccupied by the greatness of his predecessors, and so he adopted a more conservative style. Just like Brahms tried to perfect what Beethoven created, Bruckner tried to perfect what Brahms created. The result is a well developed musical style stuck somewhere between Brahms, Wagner and Mahler.
Bruckner's style did not really evolve like other composers, so his early symphonies are similar to his late ones(they were all equally horrible during his lifetime), but his late ones are the most well known, with the 7th, 8th, and unfinished 9th being the most popular. Though not as revolutionary as other composers, Bruckner's style did carry into the music of Richard Strauss and especially Gustav Mahler.
The sound quality of this recording is a touch too old for my taste, and it was most likely in some hall, and not in a good location for recording. Still it has some good things to offer, despite the sound quality.
Salzburg Festival, Wiener Philharmoniker, Szell - Sony Classical
Please comment, I can post Bruckner 9 if anyone out there is a Bruckner fan. If not, I'll just move on to other stuff.