Distinguished and scholarly conductor Leon Botstein leads the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the only contemporary performance available of the controversial Franz Schalk edition of Bruckner's Symphony No. 5.
This 1894 version of Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 was not only the one used for its premier, but it was widely regarded as the definitive edition of the work for some forty years following its publication in 1896. It was replaced by the Haas and Nowak editions that began to appear in the 1930s and '40s. The current Telarc recording is the only contemporary performance available of the Schalk edition.
Bruckner composed the original version of the work between March 1875 and May 1876, revising it in 1877 and 1878. It remained unperformed until Bruckner's younger contemporary and disciple, Franz Schalk, decided to premier it in Graz, where he had been appointed Kapellmeister. Schalk worked on the score during 1892 and 1893, recasting the orchestration (especially in the coda of the Finale), and adding many detailed tempo, phrasing expression and dynamic markings. He also abbreviated the repeat of the Scherzo and removed 122 bars of the Finale.
Bruckner became ill before the premiere in Graz and was unable to attend it. He died before being able to hear the Schalk revision.
"This recording of the 1894 edition does not lay claim to more 'authenticity' than the later critical editions," says Leon Botstein. "Rather, it offers an alternative but equally valid interpretation… [It] possesses a special power and proportion that reveals a new—or perhaps forgotten—dimension of Bruckner's music."