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
"Eugen Jochum was perhaps best known as a Bruckner specialist, recording the cycle of the symphonies and serving as president of the West German Bruckner Society. His musical family included two prominent brothers, the composer and choirmaster Otto Jochum (1898-1969) and the conductor Georg Ludwig Jochum (1909-1970). Demonstrating musical talent from an early age, he studied at the Augsburg and Munich conservatories and began his conducting career in the traditional manner for Central European conductors, at small opera companies. After several such stints, Mr. Jochum succeeded Karl Muck and Karl Böhm in 1934 as music director of the Hamburg State Opera. In the meantime, Mr. Jochum had not neglected the symphonic repertory. He founded and led the Hamburg Philharmonic from 1934 to 1949. His breakthrough had come in 1926, when at the age of 23 he led a performance of Bruckner's Symphony #7. ‘This symphony made my whole career’, Mr. Jochum recalled in 1978. ‘I began playing the organ when I was 4 years old. I like very much Baroque churches. It was all very similar in feeling to Bruckner, so his style was never difficult for me’.
From his earliest recordings, Mr. Jochum's interpretive profile seemed well formed. He was neither an intense literalist like Arturo Toscanini nor a brooding mystic like Wilhelm Furtwängler, whom he much admired. His conducting - in Bach, Haydn, Beethoven and Brahms as well as Bruckner - flowed purposefully but genially forward, responding to the music without imposing his will upon it in a self-conscious way. He could be called the epitome of the German Kapellmeister tradition.
Mr. Jochum's career advanced steadily if unspectacularly during the Nazi regime, but he was not stigmatized as a Nazi sympathizer after the war. His relationship with the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, which he had first conducted during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, remained close thereafter. He served as its co-conductor, with Bernard Haitink, from 1961 to 1964, and made his American debut with it in 1961.
His principal postwar engagement, however, was the Bavarian Radio Symphony; he founded it in 1949, elevated it to Munich's leading orchestra and led it until 1960. After that, he concentrated on guest appearances, in both orchestral and operatic repertory.”
- John Rockwell, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 28 March, 1987