Day 26: Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major (Barenboim)

My “office” this morning is the cafeteria of the local grocery store.

Not many people here at this hour.

And that’s the way I like it.

This morning, I am listening to Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major (WAB 105), nicknamed “Pizzicato Symphony” or “Tragic,” interpreted by Argentine-born pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim (1942-), whom I saw conduct the Staatskapelle Berlin in a performance of Bruckner’s Eighth at Carnegie Hall on January 28th of this year.

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 First with Staatskapelle Berlin (“Pink Box”) in this leg of my journey, visit Day 2.

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 Third with Staatskapelle Berlin (“Pink Box”) in this leg of my journey, visit Day 12.

If you want to know what I thought of Maestro Barenboim’s interpretation of Bruckner’s Fourth with Staatskapelle Berlin (“Pink Box”) in this leg of my journey, visit Day 18.

If you don’t want to know about those previous performances, keep reading.

Just for the record, the composer of these symphonies is Austrian Anton Bruckner (1824-1896).

But you already knew that.

In my previous exploration of Bruckner conductors (144 Days With Bruckner And Me), I established a system whereby I posted the objective information first. Then “rated” it at the end.

That’s how I’ve been doing it this time around, too.

I won’t go into great detail, but I do want to point out again that thanks to the information in the “Pink Box” I discovered two things about Daniel Barenboim that I didn’t know before:

1. He 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.

2. He’s an author. Once I discovered that, I bought two of his books, one I’ve already started reading called Everything Is Connected: The Power of Music.

Ad now it’s time for the objective stats about today’s performance:

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major (WAB 105), composed 1875–1876
Daniel Barenboim conducts
Barenboim used the “1878/1880 version,” according to the liner notes
Staatskapelle Berlin plays
The symphony clocks in at 70:19
This was recorded in Berlin, Germany, in June of 2010
Barenboim was 68 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 52 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. 5 in B Flat Major), from this particular conductor (Barenboim) and this particular orchestra (Staatskapelle Berlin) is as follows:

I. Adagio — Allegro……………………………………………………………………..19:31
II. Adagio – Sehr langsam. (Very slowly)……………………………………..14:19
III. Scherzo – Molto vivace…………………………………………………………..13:05
IV. Finale (Adagio) — Allegro moderato……………………………………..23:24

Total Time: 70:19

Okay. Now, here are the subjective aspects:

My Rating:
Recording quality: 3
Overall musicianship: 4
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: 2

My gosh, I’m bored by this.

I don’t like how it was recorded. I don’t like how it was performed. I heard no magic, no excitement, no energy.

I listened to this performance three times through this morning. At no time – well, except for the pizzicato at the 4:20 mark of the first movement – did I sit up and take notice.

The recording has no depth, no spaces between the instruments. It’s just a wall of sound.

I cannot recommend this performance.

Sorry, Maestro Barenboim.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.