Daniel Barenboim – conductor, pianist, all-round musician – has been exploiting the impact of cyclical performances of composers' works for several years now. Such landmark programs afford a deeper understanding of the works and of the composer's evolution. After much-acclaimed cycles of Beethoven's symphonies and piano concertos, Wagner's operas, Schoenberg's orchestral works and, in conjunction with Pierre Boulez, Mahler symphonies, Barenboim now focuses his penetrating intellect on all six of Anton Bruckner's mature symphonies.
His performance of the works with the Staatskapelle Berlin on six nearly consecutive evenings in June 2010 is an accomplishment that deserves to be called "superhuman" (Der Tagesspiegel). What the conductor and his orchestra – he has been its principal conductor since 1992 – achieve in this Bruckner marathon is a new view of the Bruckner opus that decisively opts for grandeur and the mighty theatrical gesture. "His Bruckner is conceived and performed very theatrically, like an opera without words" (Der Tagesspiegel).
Bearing in mind that Bruckner was a profound admirer of Wagner, Barenboim stresses the composer's "Wagnerian", theatrical side by occasionally doubling the number of certain instruments such as trombones, contrabass tubas and timpani. In the mighty orchestral build-ups, the effect is hair-raising, like watching a Gothic cathedral arise in time lapse. The audience showered the last two performances with 13 minutes of applause each. "Thanks to Barenboim and his splendid ensemble, Bruckner now emerges as a masterful craftsman of his own ideas” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung).