20 MAR 09 JASON SERINUS
Thank goodness for conductor Benjamin Zander. Without his marvelous 80-minute commentary on Bruckner's sprawling Symphony No. 5, contained on the bonus CD that accompanies his new recording of the work with the Philharmonia Orchestra, I might have continued to wave the "Give Me Mahler's Extremely Neurotic Angst over Bruckner's Insistent Ontological Questioning Any Day" banner.
Thankfully, Zander brings remarkable coherence to Bruckner's huge symphony. And not just through words. Conducting a rousing performance, bathed in state-of-the-art warmth by Telarc recording engineer Robert Friedrich, he uncovers extraordinary beauty and commitment in each phrase of his 69-minute performance.
Zander's journey through Bruckner's 5th has been an extremely personal one. Only in the last year, while preparing the symphony for the first time, did he locate letters about the work that his father sent to his family during World War I, while serving in the trenches. His father, who subsequently urged young Benjamin to undertake the work, was miraculously able to hear the entire symphony in his head while studying the score between rounds of gunfire. Bruckner's music nurtured his spirit, reinforcing his faith that humanity would survive the slaughter.
"If we allow ourselves to surrender..." says Zander, "Bruckner can take us with utterly simple means to places of the spirit that we could not reach in any other way. This modest, humble man had the key to the human soul." As you listen to Zander's extraordinarily powerful finale to Bruckner's vast edifice, you too may experience spiritual lift off.
Benjamin Zander discusses Bruckner's ...
Benjamin Zander & Philharmonia Orchestra ...