24 October 2010

A long overdue accolade to a scantily recorded Brucknerian -- Klaus Tennstedt

Klaus Tennstedt may not be the first few Brucknerians to come to mind when Brucknerites think of notable conductors of Bruckner's symphonies, but nevertheless he has always occupied a secured place in my Hall of Fame.  He may be more well known for his Mahler recordings, because his recordings of Bruckner symphonies numbered only 2 not too long ago. Thanks to several small companies, live recordings of his Bruckner concerts surfaced one by one in the last ten years or so. Even so, we only have 9 official Bruckner recordings of his by now, including the 2 EMI studio ones.

I'd say he is one of those conductors truly exemplary of the Austro-German school. He could hone a very Teutonic sound palette from not only German orchestras, but also his London Philharmonic Orchestra. He conveyed the full range of human emotions, but he never overdid them in his interpretation. As a result, his performances, especially live ones, are invariably moving. I have been more than once moved to the verge of tears listening to his recordings, not by a sense of sorrow per se, but rather by the vivid encounter of deep profound human feelings and emotions laid bare by his music making: the fire of passion can incinerate you, the fruit of merriness can intoxicate you, and the solemnity and religiosity can dwarf you because of kneeling.  If the life cycle of the universe can span many millennia through its quiet and fiery moments, Tennstedt can compress, in a sense, millennia of time comprising different moments of the universe neatly and convincingly in the four movements of a Bruckner symphony, and it testifies fully and painfully the immortality of Bruckner's music. I may have stretched the analogy too far, but this is just how I naively feel.

The 3rd.

The 4ths

The 7th

The 8ths

Hats off to Maestro.