C1740. EUGEN JOCHUM Cond. Boston S.O.: 'Romantic' Symphony #4 in E-flat (Bruckner). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL T-896, Live Performance, 20 July, 1974, Tanglewood, Berkshire Festival. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Although Bruckner now has many advocates, that was not always the case. And, while past early proponents of his symphonies included such renowned names as Karl Böhm, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Eduard van Beinum, and Bruno Walter, arguably his greatest champion was Eugen Jochum. For me, his two complete studio cycles (for DG and EMI) still remain the standards by which all other Bruckner performances are to be judged, and compared to which most fall woefully short. Like Bruckner a devout Roman Catholic, Jochum had the ability to enter into the mystical spiritual ethos of Bruckner’s scores, far beyond the mere notes on the printed page.
Since Jochum remained active until only a few months before his death in 1986, there are also numerous live Bruckner performances with him that have circulated on various CDs. The greatest of those - one of the most magnificent renditions of any Bruckner symphony I have ever heard, captured in stunningly gorgeous sound - is the Concertgebouw performance of 16 January 1975, released by Tahra. But this one with the Boston Symphony at the Tanglewood Music Festival from six months earlier is of very considerable interest and value in its own right. The silken, suave, virtuoso playing of the Boston Symphony fully justifies its onetime advertising moniker as ‘the aristocrat of orchestras’. The recorded sound is quite good for the era. Although the movement timings do not differ appreciably from those of Jochum’s other live and studio accounts of this work, this version has a remarkable sense of swiftly flowing motion. Much of that effect, I think, is due to the unusual clarity with which all the manifold strands of Bruckner’s overlapping instrumental lines are captured here; I hear many parts and effects that have not been apparent to me before. I also suspect that this is linked to the orchestra’s longstanding and strong excellence in French repertoire; indeed, there is something of a lighter, elegant French accent to this Bruckner that sheds an intriguingly different light upon it. In sum, this is a performance that very much belongs in the library of every devoted Brucknerian."
- James A. Altena, FANFARE
“German conductor Eugen Jochum is considered by many to have been the foremost Bruckner conductor of the mid-to late twentieth century; he produced many outstanding recordings of Bruckner's symphonies (as well as worthy interpretations of a great many other composers). He also left to posterity a number of written articles on the interpretation of that composer.
Musical studies began in early childhood (both of Eugen's brothers, Otto Jochum and Georg Ludwig Jochum, went on to become successful musicians in their own right), and Jochum attended the Augsburg Conservatory until he was 20 years of age. He enrolled in the Munich Academy of Music as a composition student of Hermann von Waltershausen, but soon diverted his energies to conducting (working with Siegmund von Hausegger). He worked as a rehearsal assistant at the Munich National Theater and, after a successful Munich debut in 1926, was invited to join the conducting staff at the Kiel Opera. In 1926, having developed a sizable operatic repertory, he moved to Mannheim (1929-1930) and then to Duisburg (1930-1932). Although relatively young, he was asked to serve as music director for Berlin Radio in 1932, and while in that city built an association with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra which would lead to many guest conductor appearances in the following decades.
Jochum became music director of the Hamburg opera (and, along with that title, principal conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic) in 1934, remaining at that post until 1949 - effectively avoiding Nazi interference with his musical activities. During the 1930s, Jochum continued to champion a number of contemporary composers who had been officially banned by the Nazi party (such as Hindemith and Bartók), though his great love remained the late Romantic repertory.
After forming the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in 1949, Jochum spent the 1950s developing that organization (in conjunction with his new role as music director for Bavarian radio) and building his stature as a guest conductor around Europe; his Bayreuth debut was in 1953, and he took partial charge of the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam from 1961-1964. He conducted the Bamburg Symphony orchestra from 1969 to 1973, and was appointed conductor laureate of the London Symphony Orchestra for the 1978-1979 season. From 1950 on Jochum served as the president of the German chapter of the International Bruckner Society.
Jochum's conducting was marked by a fluent, lyric approach (which nevertheless proved capable of drawing tempestuous results from his players when necessary). Above all else he valued a rich, warm s TVound perfectly suited to the music of Bruckner and Wagner, though recordings show a wealth of insight into the music of other German masters, notably Beethoven, Bach, and Haydn.”
- Blair Johnston, allmusic.com