The unkindest cut

Hacking at scores has, I think, become less popular at the end of the twentieth/beginning of the twenty-first century.

There was a time when anything that was perceived as overly long and/or liable to try the limited patience (or was it concentration?) of the audience had bits surgically removed to make it, seemingly, more acceptable. These cosmetic jobs were done with varying degrees of skill – sometimes the result was pleasant enough, others it resulted in horrible disfiguration.

Bruckner’s symphonies, those ‘cathedrals in sound’, suffered badly, frequently losing some fine stained-glass or a lady-chapel or two along the way. Another work that was judged fair game by the red pencil brigade was Rachmaninoff’s Second Symphony. It was rarely heard in its entirety in his lifetime, except (of course) when the composer himself conducted it.

Here’s Vasily Petrenko with the Oslo Philharmonic – a glorious hour of late Romantic music. Cuts? None that I can detect: can you?

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