I heard, each to each and together,
The distance between myself and those
Who were singing.
The ground was indistinct and vast yet
Provided no obstacle against
The waves of sound.
The air, dark, unlimited, was clean
And would have flowed as easily back
Were I singing.
It was my desire to listen.
Though I cannot say what I understood,
I lived in sound.
Anton Bruckner (1824-1896)
Norton Recorded Anthology of Western Music, CD 9 Track 37
It is not difficult to find people who dislike Mr. Bruckner's music. You may recall the tour bus metaphor offered by Tom Strini
last March (which I came across via Alex Ross
). And I do not think I could distance myself from opinions like Mr. Strini's too easily. As much as I admire maestro Skrowaczewski
, I have not followed his admiration for Bruckner. However, I have not ignored Bruckner entirely either and perhaps, in the future, I may be able to appreciate the substance of Mr. Bruckner's musical effort.
It seems that Bruckner's current fame is due to his symphonic output and specifically his Symphony Number 9. Which makes the choice of this piece, for a cappella choir, an interesting choice for the anthology. I am not sure that an excerpt of a Bruckner symphony would have shown us anything we had not already seen in the Marche au supplice
and I suspect that, unlike Berlioz, Bruckner does not do well in excerpts. With this choice we have a complete Bruckner work without taking too much time that shows a beautiful concern for music of antiquity blended with a personal creative spark.
The most lovely feature of this very modern choral writing is that the dynamics are a vital part of the thematic material. Not being familiar with the modern choral repertoire I hoped to find some commentary on this piece over at the Fredösphere
. No such luck. Was it there and I simply could not find it? At any rate, this piece would be a good one to serve as an introduction to Bruckner. It shows the straightforwardness and inventiveness of the man in a way that does not ask too much of the listener.