Following the recent release of their recording of Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, Sir Simon Rattle and the Berliner Philharmoniker turn their attention to another great 19th-century German work, Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4. The recording, taken in concert, is scheduled for release in May 2007 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Berliner Philharmoniker, which was founded in May of 1882.
Reviewing the performance, rbb Kulturradio said, “Bruckner’s Fourth was crafted beautifully: an ambitious interpretation, well-structured as usual, but Rattle wanted more this time: he emotionalized the work in a breathtaking manner. There were wonderful moments of quietness and exciting, joltingly moving climaxes full of life. … Especially impressive was the fact that Rattle proved himself to be the master of permanent transition. He dissolved the disruptions typical for Bruckner’s music, developed one thought from the previous one and combined everything logically. The stumbling blocks and rough edges were removed. The string section in particular presented itself in great form, not just with lush sound but – especially in the long movement – with fascinating detail and a wide range of gentle shades.”
The Symphony No. 4, titled ‘Romantic’ by Bruckner himself, was received triumphantly at its 1881 premiere by the Vienna Philharmonic under Hans Richter. The composer was called to the stage for bows after each movement, in stark contrast to the rejection suffered in 1877 at the premiere in Vienna of his Third Symphony.
The success of the expansive and lyrical Fourth Symphony marked a professional and personal breakthrough for the insecure Bruckner; this did not stop him making further revisions, however.
Speaking of the individuality of Bruckner’s work, Sir Simon said, “When I went on safari to Africa for the first time, flying in little planes over enormous valleys full of zebra and wildebeest, the only music that ever came to mind was Bruckner’s. It is the only music that expresses that type of nature, the only kind of music that expresses that type of moving rather slowly over an enormous space. It is as though one is caught up in a gigantic wave… which simply will not stop until the last note. And, in fact, when the last note is sounded, very often the audience simply doesn’t applaud because there is a feeling of it still going out into space.”
Sir Simon Rattle has made more than 70 recordings for EMI in an association that dates back to the 1970s. His most recent releases with the Berliner Philharmoniker include Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, Holst’s The Planets plus Four Asteroids (newly commissioned works by Saariaho, Pintscher, Turnage and Dean), Shostakovich's Symphonies Nos. 1 and 14 with Karita Mattila and Thomas Quasthoff, violin concertos of Shostakovich and Prokofiev with Sarah Chang, Schoenberg's Gurrelieder, Richard Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben and Le bourgeois Gentilhomme, Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and Debussy’s La mer. Sir Simon and the Orchestra also recorded the soundtrack to the recently released film Perfume, the Story of a Murderer.
In the summer of 2007, Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic perform works by Brahms and Weill at the Philharmonie and works by Ravel, Delius, Rachmaninov, Dvoøák, Debussy and Enescu at the outdoor Berlin Waldbühne on June 17th. In late June and July, at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, Rattle and the Orchestra give four performances of Wagner’s Die Walküre and four programmes of symphonic works by Berlioz, Pascal Dusapin, Debussy and Ravel.
Anton Bruckner (1824 - 1896)
Symphony No. 4 in E flat (1886 version, ed. Nowak)
1. I. Allegro molto moderato. Bewegt, nicht zu schnell
2. II. Andante quasi allegretto
3. III. Scherzo: Bewegt - Trio: Nicht zu schnell, keinesfalls schleppend
4. IV. Finale: Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell
Sir Simon Rattle