17 April 2013

New recording of the Vienna version of Bruckner Symphony No. 1 -- Claudio Abbado

Claudio Abbado has been enjoying a beautiful Indian Summer with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, notably in Mahler and Bruckner. This may give one the impression that he started rather late in Bruckner, or for that matter Mahler as well. How wrong one is! In fact he first started to record Bruckner, in Symphony No. 1 in C minor, as early as 1969, and this recording was to become one of the members of the Vienna Philharmonic cycle produced by Decca in the early 1970s. And then there was a 1972 live recording issued by Melodiya in the former USSR, but only in the LP format and has not been reissued in CD up till now.  More than 20 years later in 1996 he recorded this symphony again with the Vienna Philharmonic on DG (453415-2). All these 3 recordings used the "Linz" version. 

The Melodiya LP and the 2 CDs of the VPO recordings. The Japanese London CD is the first CD release of the 1969 recording issued by Decca.

The LP box-set issued by Telefunken-Decca in 1974 of the 9 Bruckner symphonies by the VPO under different conductors. (B1: Abbado; B2&6: Stein; B3&4: Böhm; B5: Maazel; B7&8: Solti and B9: Mehta).

Time flies and in recent years he was performing this symphony again with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra but this time he changed his preference to the 1890/91 Vienna version. Bruckner fans are well aware of the scarcity of recordings of this Vienna version. We have recordings of this later version (Complete Critical Edition edited by Brosche) by Wand, Rozhdestvensky and Chailly, in chronological order, besides a more recent digital download of Botstein's, and that's all we got. Even if recordings using the first published edition (Hynais) are included, there are only 2 more complete ones, by Adler and Andreae, and one of the Scherzo only, by Fritz Zaun (included in the EMI box-set of historical recordings).

In the coming Claudio Abbado: The Symphony Edition, a big 41-CD box-set issued by DG to celebrate Abbado's 80th birthday, Abbado handpicked all the recordings, and he chose for Bruckner's C minor symphony (CD26) a live recording in the Kultur- und Kongresszentrum, Lucerne in August 2012 with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra, of course of the Vienna version he championed of late. Track timings: 12'04"; 12'44"; 8'40"; 16'40". This is an important new addition not only to his discography in particular but also to Bruckner's discography in general. I'm really looking forward to it. 

For detailed track listing of this big box-set, click here to go to the official site.

For some reason, this box-set was advertised as a 40-CD box-set but in fact it contains 41 CDs.


  1. The new Lucerne Bruckner 1 is now released on a single CD from Accentus:


  2. Interesting, I didn't know this Melodiya's Bruckner 1 of Abbado. Thanks for sharing!!

  3. Like the revision itself, Abbado views the Bruckner 1st Symphony from his maturity, looking back on his youth. If you only know either Linz version, expect many subtle refinements in the Vienna version which Abbado and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra realize with aplomb. Both the Accentus (DG) CD and the 180 g LP are quite good.