Culture Magazine

Concert Review: First Shots Fired

By Superconductor @ppelkonen

Bruckner (r)Evolution Opens at the Lincoln Center Festival

Concert Review: First Shots Fired

Anton Bruckner. Portrait by Josef Büche.


Wednesday night at Lincoln Center saw the opening of Bruckner (r)Evolution, the four-night stand at Avery Fisher Hall featuring the Cleveland Orchestra. Cleveland music director Franz Welser-Möst led the program, which paired Bruckner's Fifth Symphony with Guide to Strange Places, a 20-minute orchestral roadmap by minimalist composer John Adams.
This unusual marriage is part of Mr. Welser-Möst's ambition behind the festival, to demonstrate the influence of Bruckner's unusual symphonic style and cement the Austrian composer as a predecessor of modernism. The humble Bruckner would have been suspicious of the idea, preferring his colossal achievements to stand for themselves as abstract works of art.
The Adams work opened, a dense, harmonically rich four-movement structure played as one on the model of Jean Sibelius' Seventh Symphony. Thick orchestral textures, chugging strings and the guttural honk of the contrabass clarinet combined to create eerie landscapes like the cinematic soundtrack to a recent William Gibson novel.
Like that author's recent trilogy of books, Mr. Adams' work exists in the long shadow of September 11th, and was seen as a kind of threnody for the victims of those terrorist attacks. However, the composer explained in the accompanying concert note that his piece was actually conceived before the attacks, and that it was inspired by an annotated map of Provence in France that provided information on the strange and weird history of that remarkable slice of countryside.
Bruckner's Fifth Symphony has labored under similar misconceptions. It was written at a fiscally difficult time in the composer's life, following the fiasco of his Third. That, and its descending main theme have earned it the nickname "Tragic." But this is a misnomer. The Fifth is like a great stretching bridge to some otherworldly dimension, its span held together by great piers of unison brass and guy-wired by a pizzicato theme that opens the first movement and comes to dominate the finale.
Under Mr. Welser-Möst, the Cleveland Orchestra led the audience on a leisurely tour of this remarkable structure. The brass played with stirring power. The strings gave warm voice to the long melodic lines of the opening movement's second theme and the most lyric pages of the Adagio. The woodwinds came to the fore in the scherzo, written as a pair of interlocking Austrian country dances and reflecting Bruckner's country roots.
The finale led to the most magnificent playing of the evening, a 20-minute movement in which the ideas from the previous three are recapitulated in sonata form and then made to run in place with a colossal double fugue. The effect is remarkably like Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, minus the solo voices and the chorus.
Throughout, Bruckner's writing for the orchestra reflects his mastery of counterpoint and his decision to treat a full symphony orchestra as if it were a giant pipe organ. The Cleveland forces responded to this magnificent music with power, enthusiasm and an odd, awkward grace, making this concert a strong opening to this four-night festival.
Bruckner (r)Evolution continues tonight with the Adams Violin Concerto, paired with Bruckner's Symphony No. 7. Symphony No. 8 bows on Saturday, with the 9th at 2pm on Sunday. Watch this space for full and continuing coverage.


You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Five Things I Loved About My Wedding – Kayleigh

    Five Things Loved About Wedding Kayleigh

    This is the fourth in a series of blog posts with a focus on those little things that make a wedding special. It is called Five Things I Loved About My Wedding. Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Wedincentralpark
    LIFESTYLE, WEDDING
  • Democracy and the Politics of Intolerance

    Democracy Politics Intolerance

    A democracy allows government to reflect the will of the people. Or does it? Here I would like to understand a bit better the dynamics through which radical... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Dlittle30
    SOCIETY
  • Cable Girls – 1920s Era Women with a Modern Twist

    Cable Girls 1920s Women with Modern Twist

    Las Chicas del Cable – four women in 1920s Madrid – Cloche hats, colorful flapper frocks and bobbed hair. What’s not to enjoy about the new Netflix produced... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Glamourdaze
    FASHION, LIFESTYLE
  • BADASS Art Journal Page - All of Me....

    BADASS Journal Page Me....

    Embracing all parts of me and surrounded by miracles - Art Journal PageI found a couple of passports photos of myself recently and I was criticizing them becaus... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Realityarts
    CREATIVITY, SELF EXPRESSION
  • Dutch Apple Loaf

    Dutch Apple Loaf

    This Dutch Apple Loaf is my kind of cake, soft and moist,  and filled with juicy chunks of apple and pecan nuts.  For a lovely hint of sweetness I have... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Shadesofcinnamon
    FOOD & DRINK, RECIPES
  • A Jumbo Passion Project

    The climber, facing away from the wall, gingerly peers over his toes to watch his sky-blue T-shirt flutter to the ground. He takes a deep breath, then turns in... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Thervproject
    OUTDOORS
  • Top 3 Dim Sum Restaurants in Chinatown

    Restaurants Chinatown

    Chicago’s Chinatown is home to some of the best restaurants in the city. Sundays can be especially crowded in this area, usually around brunch, as dim sum, a... Read more

    The 24 May 2017 by   Urbanmatter Chicago
    TRAVEL