Anton Bruckner: Te Deum, Symphony No. 8
Bruckner’s Te Deum and his Symphony No. 8 present Bernard Haitink’s long-standing collaboration with the Chor and Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in two live recordings from 2010 and 1993. They are now released on a 2CD edition by BR-KLASSIK.Order online now
The Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra were linked by a long and intensive artistic collaboration, brought to an abrupt end by his death in October 2021. BR-KLASSIK now presents outstanding and as yet unreleased live recordings of concerts from the past years. This recording of Bruckner’s Te Deum and his Eighth Symphony (version by Robert Haas, 1939) documents concerts performed in the Philharmonie im Gasteig in November 2010, and in the Herkulessaal of the Munich Residenz in December 1993.
Haitink first conducted a Munich subscription concert in 1958, and from then on, he repeatedly stood on the podium of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra – either in the Herkulessaal of the Residenz or in the Philharmonie im Gasteig. This congenial collaboration lasted more than six decades. The orchestral musicians and singers enjoyed working with him just as much as the BR sound engineers. As an interpreter of the symphonic repertoire, and especially that of the German-Austrian Late Romantic period, Haitink was held in high esteem worldwide. With him, the symphonies of Gustav Mahler were also in the best of hands at all times. His driving principle was to take the sound architecture of a musical composition with its many-layered interweavings and render it transparently audible; extreme sensitivity of sound was paired with a clearly structured interpretation of the score.
Anton Bruckner created his Te Deum in May 1881, while he was finishing his Sixth Symphony. He then set to work on the Seventh. After completing it, he took up the Te Deum again at the end of September and completed it in March 1884. Hans Richter conducted the premiere on January 10, 1886 by the Vienna Singverein in the Musikvereinssaal. Gustav Mahler was much taken with the work; in his copy of the score, he replaced the subtitle “for choir, soloists and orchestra, organ ad libitum” with “for the tongues of angels, seekers of God, chastened hearts and souls purified by fire!” Bruckner described the Te Deum as the “pride of his life”, writing: “If the good Lord ever calls me to him and asks me what I did with the talents he gave me, I will hold out to him the scroll with my Te Deum – and he will be a merciful judge.” The piece is one of the most important great choral works of its time and is considered a high point of the composer’s artistic output. It was the last of his works that Bruckner ever heard – in a concert on January 12, 1896. Since he was unable to complete the final movement of his Ninth Symphony, he decreed that the Te Deum should be played as a substitute for it.
The creation of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony was probably influenced by his suddenly becoming famous, and this must also have strengthened the composer’s ever unstable self-confidence. After the performance of Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony, the famous conductor Hermann Levi had proclaimed him “the greatest symphonist after Beethoven’s death”; in Munich, Bruckner, who had often been ridiculed in Vienna, was finally taken seriously, his importance recognised; and the Emperor of Austria awarded him the Order of Franz Joseph, which made the composer especially proud. In the summer of 1884, he set to work on the Eighth. With C Minor, he returned to the key of his first two symphonies – a key that had already played a foremost role in Beethoven’s Fifth and that virtually challenged him to walk “per aspera ad astra”, through the night to the light. He wanted to create the greatest instrumental symphony of all time; its dimensions grew to gigantic proportions, and the demands on performers and listeners increased enormously.
The incomparably bold finale is the longest and most daring sonata movement ever composed; Bruckner referred to it as “the most important movement of (his) life”. At the point where the main themes of all four movements resound simultaneously towards the end, he wrote a euphoric “Hallelujah!” in his draft. – The symphony was finally completed in August 1887, after three years of work – but performance was delayed due to Levi’s energetic objections. Between October 1887 and March 1890, Bruckner thoroughly revised the work – and on December 18, 1892 the premiere of the Eighth Symphony in its new version finally took place, performed by the Vienna Philharmonic under Hans Richter. It was an extraordinary success. Hugo Wolf reported: “It was an absolute victory of light over darkness, and the storm of delighted applause was like some elemental manifestation of nature. In short, it was a triumph as complete as any Roman emperor could have wished for.”
Krassimira Stoyanova soprano
Yvonne Naef mezzo-sopran
Christoph Strehl tenor
Günther Groissböck bass
Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Simon Halsey director
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Bernard Haitink conductor
BR-KLASSIK 2CD 900212
Total Time: CD 1: 56:50 min. / CD 2: 54:46 min.
- Representative examples of the congenial collaboration between Bernard Haitink and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra.
- Bruckner: Te Deum, live recording from the Philharmonie im Gasteig from November 10 to 12, 2010
- Bruckner: Symphony No. 8 (version by Robert Haas, 1939), live recording from the Herkulessaal of the Munich Residenz from December 15 to 17, 1993