Day 29: Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major (Inbal)


My “office” this morning is back at the library, my favorite place to work.

Not even an overcast day can dim my spirits for listening to Bruckner.

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 Israeli conductor Eliahu Inbal (1936-).

I heard Maestro Inbal on four previous days:

On Day 3, Symphony No. 1.

And on Day 8, Symphony No. 2.

And on Day 14, Symphony No. 3.

And again on Day 21, Symphony No. 4.

If you want to read what I thought of his interpretations, let your clicking finger do the walking to days gone by.

If not, read on…

Here are the objective stats about today’s performance:

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major (WAB 105), composed 1875–1876
Eliahu Inbal conducts
Inbal used the “Original Version” (whatever that means), according to the back of the CD sleeve
Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt plays
The symphony clocks in at 70:46
This was recorded in Frankfurt, Germany, in October of 1987
Inbal was 51 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 52 when he finished composing it (the first time)
This recording was released on the Warner Classics & Jazz label/Teldec Classics label

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four movements. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major), from this particular conductor (Inbal) and this particular orchestra (Frankfurt Radio Symphony) is as follows:

I. Adagio — Allegro……………………………………………………………………..19:48
II. Adagio – Sehr langsam. (Very slowly)……………………………………..14:45
III. Scherzo – Molto vivace…………………………………………………………..13:51
IV. Finale (Adagio) — Allegro moderato……………………………………..22:22

Total Time: 70:46

Here are the subjective aspects:

My Rating:
Recording quality: 4
Overall musicianship: 4
CD liner notes: 3 (very thin booklet, sparse essay about Bruckner translated into English, German, and French; no information at all about Eliahu Inbal)
How does this make me feel: 4

Something happened with this Inbal box set that has never happened before – in 5-6 years and hundreds of CDs covering dozens and dozens of box sets: A duplicate CD. For this symphony. I pulled the CD out of the sleeve and – oops! – it was not Symphony No. 5.

I have two Symphony No. 6 CDs.

So I contacted the Amazon Marketplace seller from whom I bought this box set.

They asked me to return it.

But, first, I have to rip and scan it so that I can continue with this leg of my Bruckner journey.

Whereas the transition from the impeccable Jankowski box set to the Young box set results in Young’s set coming off as much in every regard, the opposite is true this time with the transition between the Furtwangler box set and the Inbal box set.

This time, Inbal looks and sounds great by comparison to what I just heard from Furtwangler.

But I’m not sure the positive difference is warranted.

This is a much better recording and performance than Furtwangler’s But is that (a) fair to Furtwangler, and (b) deserving of Inbal?

This is a fine performance, don’t get me wrong. But is that because our cat, Larry, would sound fine compared to the 1942 performance from Furtwangler? Or is it because this is truly a performance worthy of praise?

The recording is three dimensional and crisp and strong. It’s a bit tinny in the horn section. But, overall, it’s well worth listening to.

The performance is spirited and engaging.

Therefore, I guess, this stands on its own as something worthy to hear.

So why am I not totally convinced of that?

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