The Munich Philharmonic has close ties to the works of Anton Bruckner. Its affinity to Bruckner’s works, which was already established during the composer’s lifetime, continues to this day. The large number of historical Bruckner recordings with Sergiu Celibidache, Christian Thielemann, Rudolf Kempe and Günter Wand now includes a long-awaited highlight: the Bruckner cycle with principal conductor Valery Gergiev, recorded from 2017 to 2019 at St. Florian Monastery, the composer’s final resting place.
Following the release of the individual albums, the orchestra’s own MPHIL label is now releasing a CD box set of the complete cycle. In addition to the live recordings from 2017 (Symphonies No. 1, 3, and 4), 2018 (Symphonies No. 2, 8, and 9), and 2019 (Symphonies No. 5, 6, and 7), the CD box set contains musicological background texts on each symphony in German and English.
I have been working with the Munich Philharmonic for some years already. When we embarked on a complete cycle of the Bruckner symphonies, we felt particularly honoured to be invited by the Brucknerfest to perform the cycle at St. Florian Cathedral near Linz in Austria. This is the place where Bruckner spent a great deal of his early life and where he was buried. Bruckner lived in his world of music, focused on composing and playing the organ.
People nowadays have forgotten to live slowly and quietly, as Bruckner did. All the more is his music important today, in very complicated times, in the hectic 21st century. This repertoire is not old-fashioned. On the contrary, we need Bruckner more than previous generations, his relatively slow, very majestic and sometimes gigantic understanding of our world through his music, the relation between human beings and God, as well as the contemplation of nature, the consolation of our own troubled self, which is constantly confronted with the incredibly big and fast-changing world around us.
The time at St. Florian in September 2017, 2018 and 2019 was a highlight in my career and in the history of the Munich Philharmonic, and I am particularly grateful to Telmondis for recording what will probably be the first complete Bruckner cycle for audio, television and home video.
VALERY GERGIEV Chief Conductor of the Munich Philharmonic