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Barenboim is a Bruckner Guy / The New Yorker

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While I didn't have the privilege of lounging in a cigar bar with the celebrated conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim, I did have the pleasure of attending three concerts of his cycle of Bruckner Symphonies at Carnegie Hall with the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra, which closed on Sunday afternoon-the first complete cycle ever presented there. For an accurate overview, I decided to take in three of the nine symphonies, each of a different type: a sleeper (the Third), a problem child (the Fifth), and a universal favorite (the Seventh).

Attentive listeners like to dialogue about Bruckner these days, chewing on either the problematic aspects of the music itself or on the unpleasant associations with German nationalism that accrued to the music, even during the composer's own lifetime. But not Daniel Barenboim. This is because Barenboim is a Bruckner Guy, and his devotion has been lifelong.