Day 12: Symphony No. 3 in D Minor (Barenboim)

My “office” this morning is the second floor of the Kentwood Library.

This is one of my favorite spots in the whole world for working.

The tables are perfectly positioned so that their height is just right to avoid strain on the neck and shoulders. They’re wide. And they overlook the view of a field and woods. I’ve seen deer on that field from time to time.

In short, it’s a tranquil setting this morning for listening to…

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 3 in D Minor WAB 103 (nicknamed “Wagner Symphony”), interpreted by Argentine-born pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim (1942-), whom I saw conduct the Staatskapelle Berlin at Carnegie Hall on January 28th of this year. (I’ll probably say that for the rest of my life; so get used to it.)

NOTE: I have two Barenboim CD box sets for this leg of my Bruckner journey. The first (which I’ll call the “Blue Box”) is on the Warner Classics label. The second (which I’ll call the “Pink Box”) is on the Deutsche Grammophon label. The performances in the Blue Box were recorded in the 1990s. The performances in the Pink Box were recorded much more recently, 2012 and 2010.

So…alpha by conductor, then chronological by years recorded.

That’s the plan.

Because today’s recording comes from the Pink Blox, Barenboim’s orchestra for this performance is the Staatskapelle Berlin. And the music label is Deutsche Grammophon, one of my all-time favorite labels for Classical music.

If you want to know what I thought of Maestro Barenboim’s interpretation of Bruckner’s Second with Staatskapelle Berlin (“Pink Box”) in this leg of my journey, visit Day 7.

If you want to know what I thought of Maestro Barenboim’s interpretation of Bruckner’s First with Staatskapelle Berlin (“Pink Box”) in this leg of my journey, visit Day 2.

If not, keep reading.

Just for the record, the composer is Austrian Anton Bruckner (1824-1896). But you already knew that.

The way I worked it last time (144 Days With Bruckner And Me), I posted the objective information first. Then “rated” it at the end.

That seemed to work for me.

So I’ll do it that way this time.

I’d like to mention again that I just discovered (thanks to the information the “Pink Box”) Daniel Barenboim started a music label called Peral Music, which bills itself as “For the thinking ear.”

It’s a very fine web site, with a lot of music, books, and DVDs featured on it. Because of what I discovered there, I hot footed (or would that be hot fingered?) it over to Amazon to buy a couple of books written by Daniel Barenboim, including one I’m reading now called Everything Is Connected: The Power of Music.

According to the Philosophy page on the Peral site,

Peral invites curious minds to experience music with focus and new insights.

Today, music is heard everywhere: at the office, in restaurants, in airplanes, and the like. Yet how often do we genuinely listen, and hear with thought and concentration?

Curated exclusively by pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim and featuring unique listening guides, Peral is a new record label that invites curious minds to experience music with focus and new insights.

Embracing the possibilities of digital access, Peral Music offers audiences worldwide an alternative way of listening, resisting a culture of indifference by celebrating the thinking ear.

I can dig that.

By the way, according to an article on the Universal Music Group web site,

Peral, whose logo has been designed by Barenboim’s good friend, the architect Frank Gehry, is Spanish for ‘pear tree’ – and the name Barenboim is the Yiddish form of the German ‘Birnbaum’ or ‘pear tree’. Thus the label brings together the different strands of Barenboim’s heritage.

And there you have it.

I can dig it even more now that I understand where its name came from.

I’m going to have fun exploring Maestro Barenboim’s Peral Music web site.

As for now, here are the objective stats about today’s performance:

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 3 in D Minor WAB 103, composed 1873
Daniel Barenboim conducts
Barenboim used the “1878 version – Fritz Oeser edition 1950,” according to the liner notes
Staatskapelle Berlin plays
The symphony clocks in at 57:38
This was recorded in Vienna, Austria at the Musikverein Golden Hall, in 2012
Barenboim was 70 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 49 when he finished composing it (the first time)
This recording was released on the Peral Music label (licensed to Deutsche Grammophon)

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four movements. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 3 in D Minor), from this particular conductor (Barenboim) and this particular orchestra (Staatskapelle Berlin) is as follows:

I. Gemäßigt, mehr bewegt, misterioso (Moderate, more animated, mysterious)……………………………………………………………………………………………………20:32
II. Adagio. Bewegt, quasi Andante (With motion, as if Andante)………………………………………………………………………………………………………..14:59
III. Scherzo. Ziemlich schnell (Fairly fast) (also Sehr schnell)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..6:51
IV. Finale. Allegro (also Ziemlich schnell)………………………………………………………15:16

Total running time: 57:38

Here’s information about Fritz Oeser from his entry on Wikipedia,

Fritz Oeser (May 18, 1911, Gera – February 23, 1982, Kassel) was a musicologist, most famous for preparing restored versions of Bizet’s Carmen in 1964 and Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann in 1976. The former was heavily criticized for lack of editorial integrity by Winton Dean. He also edited the 1877 version of Anton Bruckner’s Third Symphony in D Minor (published 1950). Fritz Oeser Website.

Okay. Now, here are the subjective aspects:

My Rating:
Recording quality: 4
Overall musicianship: 5
CD liner notes: 3 (very thin booklet with a sparse essay about Bruckner, the orchestra, and Barenboim translated into English, German, and French)
How does this make me feel: 4

What a difference a day makes!

This recording seems much more energetic, powerful, and engaging than the one I heard yesterday of Bruckner’s Third. It’s two minutes shorter than yesterday’s (57:38 today to 59:36 yesterday) but unlike when the opposite is true (longer one day than another), I didn’t notice any difference.

The Finale of this performance was so rousing that I felt its triumphant nature and wanted to shout, “Huzzah!” – even though I’m ensconced in a library.

I was pulled in from the opening minute or two of the first movement…and held spellbound to the final moments of the Finale.

The movement that really kicked my ass was the third – Scherzo. It’s extremely powerful.

As I noted last time, I’m a sucker for liner notes. Yesterday’s were far superior to the ones in this CD box set. If the package yesterday contained the music from today, I think I’d have the Holy Grail of Bruckner Symphonies conducted by Barenboim. The liner notes in this box (the one I call the “Pink Box”) really suck.

I’m amazed by how subjective these performances are. Same conductor. Same symphony. Different orchestra and date of recording. And they’re world’s apart to my ears.

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