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Bruckner Symphony No. 2 (Jochum, Staatskapelle Dresden)

March 8, 2013

One of the most unique characteristics of the Austrian composer Anton Bruckner’s music is that each of his symphonies sound markedly different from the others. His Symphony No.2 in C Minor is a prime example. Following the happy, airy First Symphony, the Symphony No.2 is of a more brooding and melancholy character. The conductor on this recording, Eugen Jochum, proved himself able to adapt to Bruckner’s different musical personalities with this recording, unquestionably one of the best in existence.

In this critic’s discussion of Jochum’s recording of Bruckner’s First with Staatskapelle Dresden, he mentioned that the brass often  came off unsteady and squeaky, and that the violins tended to play with an unbecoming, superficial tone. These faults were nowhere to be found in the Second Symphony recording. The winds and brass, stable and aware of musical balance, were notably lyrical and full of beautiful tone. The string sections proved themselves adept at conquering Bruckner’s technically demanding composition.

The first movement, sad and tuneful, was played with proper attention to intonation and phrasing by Staatskapelle Dresden, and the balance among the violins, violas, cellos, basses, was impeccable. In fact, at one moment in the first movement, this critic dropped what he was doing in order to absorb the Dresden color of sound! The second movement was played nicely; Jochum and the orchestra avoided the trap of losing momentum throughout the movement. The orchestra played the heavy third movement well, but this critic wished that the orchestra could have varied dynamics and character when the main theme repeated itself over and over. However, the movement that was played with the best intonation, dynamics, character, and balance was the fourth movement. Jochum gracefully moved te melodies from one section of the orchestra to the next, and the orchestra itself handled difficult rhythms and figures.

In the end, Eugen Jochum’s recording of Bruckner’s Second Symphony was a nearly flawless interpretation of a difficult work. If this critic had any reservations about the first symphony, he certainly did not have any for the second. Purchasing this would be a wise decision.

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2 Comments
  1. May I ask, what is “Dresden color of sound”?

    • journeythroughnews permalink

      Good question! I would say it is a little more shrill than most orchestras, choppier, and with winds that sound almost like buzzing insects. However, the orchestra plays perfectly together, and the effect is great, even if the sound is a bit different. Let me see if I can post something that would clarify…

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