Bruckner: Symphony No. 8

2012-7-4

For Prom 27, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra performed Wagner's Siegfried Idyll and Bruckner's 8th Symphony.

There is something very unsatisfying about Kensington, playground of the feral rich. It may be the conversations you tend to overhear. Expensive women talking about expensive cocktails, that sort of thing.

The dreadful banter extended into the Albert Hall for the evening's BBC Prom. A sample conversation went like this: "So, do you like Bruckner?" The reply: "Sometimes." Since we were about five minutes out from the start of an hour and a half of Bruckner's 8th Symphony, for his sake, I hope it was one of those times.

Of course, the real joke is that even Bruckner wasn't sure that he liked Bruckner. Because of this uncertainty, he subjected his symphonies to numerous revisions and editions, and the 8th is no exception. The result is that there are a lot of ideas, but they never really amount to anything other than confusion.

The strings will be playing along and then suddenly, all the brass will turn up at once, do something, and then go quiet again. It's a bit like a guest turning up unannounced in the middle of the main course, eating desert and leaving. What just happened? Why did they come? Where did they go? Then the realization: they might be back at any time! Should I leave something in the fridge just in case?

It is amusing to hear the BBC's musical experts defend this as being "deeply human." It's not human; it's rude, inept, and unsatisfying.

_Prom 27 featuring Wagner and Bruckner was performed on August 3rd, 2012. If you have access to iPlayer or a suitable proxy server, you can watch it here. _


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