The Vienna Philharmonic is recording its first complete cycle of Anton Bruckner’s symphonies under a single conductor, Christian Thielemann, for Sony Classical. The project begins with the composer’s Symphony No 8 (Haas Edition).
In conjunction with a major tour of European cathedrals, the world’s most famous orchestra will issue the final release in the live cycle in 2024, marking 200 years since the Bruckner’s birth.
The Vienna Philharmonic premiered four of Bruckner’s nine symphonies and has enjoyed a unique relationship with the Austrian composer’s music since 1873, when it gave the first performance of his Symphony No 2. In 1892, its premiere of the Symphony No 8 under Hans Richter was deemed a triumph.
Christian Thielemann, Principal Conductor of the Staatskapelle Dresden and Artistic Director of the Salzburg Easter Festival since 2013, is his generation’s most esteemed interpreter of the Romantic Austro-German repertoire. In the midst of a mutually stimulating relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic, he conducted his first New Year’s Concert with the orchestra in 2019.
Thielemann’s interpretations of Bruckner’s music are distinctive, sought-after and rooted on deep expertise and sympathy. Few conductors access the solemnity and patience in the composer’s symphonies like Thielemann, as was evident in October 2019 when the Symphony No 8 was performed and recorded in an “exceptional” concert at the Musikverein (Die Presse).
After the concert, critics were united in praise for Thielemann’s handling of structure, sonority, tension and tranquillity – and for playing of unparalleled beauty from the orchestra, complemented by the Musikverein’s unique acoustic.
It “couldn’t have been better or more ravishing” raved Der Kurier.
The Eighth Symphony is one of Bruckner’s most challenging – a sometimes dark spiritual quest that ends in blazing positivity but whose unanswered questions linger long after its last note has sounded. A work of magical solemnity and captivating timelessness, it is also the first Bruckner symphony to be seasoned with the distinctive sound of the harp.