BRUCKNER SYMPHONY NO. 5
"This memory in stone goes back to Bruckner himself."
Franz Welser-Möst on performing Bruckner in St. Florian
Bruckner's Fifth Symphony has been called the "Medieval" because of its multi-layered, Baroque, contrapuntal tonal textures and the "Catholic" because of its solemn majesty. These designations are willful – Bruckner himself called it his "Fantastic" – but they are uniquely fitting to the work, especially when it is performed at the Monastery of St. Florian, as on this recording. The original monastery dates from the Middle Ages, but was rebuilt in the late 17th century into one of the most stunning monuments of Baroque architecture. Located near Linz, the sprawling structure is also directly connected to Bruckner, who was acting organist there from 1845 to 1855. And anyone who knows the Fifth will readily agree that it is nothing less than "fantastic"...
Bruckner wrote the Fifth in 1875/76, but the work was not premiered until 1894, after it had undergone many revisions by the composer. It is not without reason that Bruckner also called the Fifth his "contrapuntal masterpiece." Indeed, the incredible prominence of the finale arises from an almost fanatical contrapuntal interplay that bundles together the structures of the entire symphony into one homogeneous form and leads them together into a grandiose double fugue that is unique even for Bruckner. Welser-Möst calls the Fifth "a very special piece. Not only because it is technically an absolute highlight in Bruckner's oeuvre, but also because it is an affirmation of Christianity."
Franz Welser-Möst, Music Director of both the Zurich Opera and the Cleveland Orchestra, brought his U.S. ensemble to St. Florian in September 2006 for performances at the Linz Brucknerfest. Recorded in HDTV with 5.1 surround sound, the performance of the Bruckner Fifth impressively confirms the Cleveland Orchestra's standing as the most European of U.S. orchestras. And it breathtakingly illustrates Welser-Möst's talent for honing the subtleties and nuances of Bruckner's complex orchestration with the fine musicians at his disposal.