January 15, 2005

The Mysterious Symphony

It took twenty years, but it was worth the wait.

Back some time in 1984, I'd hooked up my stereo's tuner to my cassette recorder and recorded 90 minutes' worth of a classical FM station, not knowing what I might get, but hoping there might be something to listen to.

I'd lucked out: I'd nabbed a great recording of what's become one of my favorite symphonies. Only one problem. The tape ended before the announcer came on and explained what composer and symphony it was.

All I had was the tape, and once in a while over the years I'd listen to it again, not knowing who it was. Because of the FM source, there was hiss, a faint static, and even some faint interference from other stations, particularly noticeable during quiet passages of the recording. But what symphony was it? No clue.

Years and years later I finally figured it out, after hearing a piece of the symphony in a car radio and driving an extra distance just to keep listening until the announcer came on.

Bruckner's Fifth Symphony.

And so I raced out to the library and checked out two different CDs of that symphony, hoping I'd find the same recording I'd taped from the FM radio twenty years earlier.

Alas, as is so often the case, for me at least, these were different recordings -- each a different interpretation. Both were faster than the taped version I'd committed to memory, and they just wouldn't do.

So I googled and I searched AMG and other resources and found a bunch of recordings. One that seemed to get a lot of raves was a Deutsche Grammophon CD. Went to the store and bought it.

Very very close, but some significant differences. And that's when I learned that Bruckner's 5th has several different edits, and the CD I'd just bought had Bruckner's original version, with several longer passages I'd never heard before. Think of it like the director's cut of a film: new scenes not in the original theatrical release which make the whole movie feel like a new discovery.

To this date I've still not found the exact same recording I taped on the radio 20 years ago. Still hope to find it one day. In the meantime, the Deutsche Grammophon recording will have to do.

Posted by brian at January 15, 2005 09:25 AM


so after all of that, you're not going to share it with us? i couldn't find it on itunes. i suppose i could start my own quest.

Posted by: Ryan at January 19, 2005 09:59 PM

Share what, the whole symphony as an MP3 file? Um, sorry.

But the album art is right there, and you can buy it from Amazon or other fine stores.

Posted by: Brian Dear at January 20, 2005 02:51 PM

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