The first time I started to listen to Bruckner's Fourth Symphony in preparation for this concert, I couldn't get through it. Quite often, it's difficult for me to listen to Bruckner; I feared the amount of time we would spend with the piece and wondered how I would commit to it for over an hour for three concerts.
And yet somehow, this week has cleared the haze and the harmonies have started to emerge, the beautiful Mahler-like dancing in stasis. There is a subtle magic to it underneath the blaring brass which always seems to overpower Bruckner's identity to me. I've started to love playing the pizzicato bass lines which accompany the upper strings, to find color in a single note change and new harmony suggestions. I've even started to enjoy some of the quirky orchestrations, such as the viola section competing against a huge brass choral.
Perhaps it's the incredible leadership we are enjoying this week with members from the Philadelphia Orchestra and others who are helping to shape the sound and purpose of the work. Perhaps there is something fundamentally fun about playing music. Whatever it is, I'm a fan, and happy to welcome the conversion.