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Symphony No. 9

Bruckner Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Disc: 1
1. Feierlich: Misterioso
2. Scherzo: Bewegt; Lebhaft/Trio: Schnell. Scherzo Da Capo
3. Adagio: Langsam; Feierlich
Disc: 2
1. Finale (Misterioso; Nicht Schnell)

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5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty exciting stuff. Feb. 29 2004
Format:Audio CD
How does one discuss a recording of a Bruckner symphony in which the portion of most interest wasn't actually composed by Bruckner? At least not all of it.
Well, this happens to be, even without the completion, a darned good Bruckner 9th. I'm not too familiar with the work of conductor Johannes Wildner, except to say he does a fine job on this set.
However, the special interest here, of course, is the completion.
Of course, any completion of Bruckner's 9th Symphony must be speculative. I've own the recordings by Kurt Eichhorn and Yoav Talmi. Both are good. The Eichhorn somehow seems a bit more "authentic", if that is the right word. The Talmi, though a bit scrappy, is, at least to these ears, more exciting, with a brighter arrangement of the existing music written by Bruckner for the finale. I must admit to liking both, but for the different reasons stated above.
This performance, it seems to me, is the best of the three. The orchestra isn't quite as polished as Eichhorn's, but seems a bit more comfortable with the music than Talmi's Norwegian forces, although, again, what they may slightly lack in finesse they more than make up for in exhuberance. Wildner's orchestra seems to fall comfortably in the middle. It is fully capable of playing Bruckner's immensely difficult music, and it seems to fully enjoy doing so.
I found Wildner's conducting to be impassioned, nuanced, insightful, and fully up to the challange.
This version of the finale is probably the best yet. Of course, none can ever be definitive. But this, I would think, barring further discoveries, is probably as close as we are likely to get.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Faith Triumphant Feb. 12 2004
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
'Authenticity' is a vague idea where Bruckner's symphonies are concerned. There remain undecidable questions of text and versions in the case of most of the nine. These uncertainties are not all on account of 'friends' meddling with Bruckner's scores after he had achieved what satisfied him as a definitive form of the work. Bruckner was himself a persistent, dissatisfied reviser.
The indisputable fact that the 'reconstructed' finale cannot be considered 'definitive' is therefore of no overwhelming significance. The facts of the case are that the finale of the 9th was completed by Bruckner in full score up to the beginning of the coda (a fact H. F. Redlich pointed out 50 years ago: 'Bruckner and Mahler', Master Musicians, Dent). The finale of Bruckner's 9th was therefore left in a more complete state than Mahler's 10th. The thorough notes accompanying this recording present a strong and largely convincing musicological case for this reconstruction.
But what matters more for the listener is whether the reconstruction in the setting of the entire symphony is emotionally and psychologically sound. From that perspective the reconstruction is a resounding triumph. It places the symphony as a whole firmly in the authentic stream of Bruckner's symphonic visions of faith triumphant; the finale's coda bringing the symphony, and therefore Bruckner's entire symphonic output, to a moment of glorious and resplendent magnificence, a summit of transfigured splendour and arrival.
The themes Bruckner builds with in this most magisterial finale are wonderfully characteristic products of his most mature contemplations, certainly there is no evidence of any diminution of his creative skills.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faith Triumphant Feb. 12 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
`Authenticity' is a vague idea where Bruckner's symphonies are concerned. There remain undecidable questions of text and versions in the case of most of the nine. These uncertainties are not all on account of `friends' meddling with Bruckner's scores after he had achieved what satisfied him as a definitive form of the work. Bruckner was himself a persistent, dissatisfied reviser.
The indisputable fact that the `reconstructed' finale cannot be considered `definitive' is therefore of no overwhelming significance. The facts of the case are that the finale of the 9th was completed by Bruckner in full score up to the beginning of the coda (a fact H. F. Redlich pointed out 50 years ago: `Bruckner and Mahler', Master Musicians, Dent). The finale of Bruckner's 9th was therefore left in a more complete state than Mahler's 10th. The thorough notes accompanying this recording present a strong and largely convincing musicological case for this reconstruction.
But what matters more for the listener is whether the reconstruction in the setting of the entire symphony is emotionally and psychologically sound. From that perspective the reconstruction is a resounding triumph. It places the symphony as a whole firmly in the authentic stream of Bruckner's symphonic visions of faith triumphant; the finale's coda bringing the symphony, and therefore Bruckner's entire symphonic output, to a moment of glorious and resplendent magnificence, a summit of transfigured splendour and arrival.
The themes Bruckner builds with in this most magisterial finale are wonderfully characteristic products of his most mature contemplations, certainly there is no evidence of any diminution of his creative skills. The awe-inspiring `Choralthema' (as Bruckner himself refers to it in the autograph score) is one of his most overwhelming creations, magnificent in the strength needed to support the cathedral massiveness of the movement; a movement that teems with the light and shadows of something Gothic and mysterious.
Throughout the symphony Wildner and the Westphalians give a thoroughly convincing performance. Tempi and phrasing are finely judged, the orchestra delighting in an authentically Brucknerian sound-world - magnificent brass and characterful woodwinds. The recording integrates the largest-scale perspective with accurately focused fine-detail - there is wonderful resonance and `purchase' in the string tone at the opening of the Adagio, while timpani detonate with blistering impact (first movement) or whisper with membranous delicacy (when they take up the theme in the Scherzo).
The disc is a revelation! It would have been worse than a waste of time if it had failed to be. This performance comes so near to permitting us to hear a `complete Bruckner' as perhaps makes no odds.
31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AS CLOSE AS IT GETS June 21 2006
By Mark E. Farrington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
For 100 years after Bruckner's death, it was assumed that the "sketches" of the 9th's fourth movement were the disjointed, disturbing scribblings of a desperate, arteriosclerotic mind. This misunderstanding was the result of Bruckner's feeble end-stage demeanor, as well as a musicological "perfect storm":

1) There was a long-standing "traditional" disinclination to grant this movement the attention it needed, borne of intellectual laziness as well as misguided "Beethovenian" romanticism as to the symphonic number "NINE". Never mind that the "9th" is actually Bruckner's 11th symphony - counting the early F minor & D minor symphonies ("00" & "0"). These may not be "canonical", but nevertheless they were preserved by Bruckner, in spite of his notorious self-doubts and revisionism.

2) In Bruckner's Belvedere cottage, immediately after his death, there was much, shameless scavenging of this movement's sketches and manuscripts. It took the better part of a century to bring enough of them together for cohesive analysis and reconstruction. Prior to this, any attempts at taking the true measure of the 4th movement were doomed to failure.

Benjamin Gunnar Cohrs writes that the 1934 Orel "study volume" for this movement "omitted several sources, scattered as they were to the four winds." Later attempts at "completing" the 4th movement foundered on the omission of "significant original passages....(and) a high proportion of 'free Brucknerian' writing...One arranger, for example, filled a demonstrably 16-measure-gap in the score with no less than 100 measures of his own composition!"

No wonder, then, that even the most erudite Brucknerians mis-read the 4th movement, finding it "unmotivated" and "momentumless". (Robert Simpson, after a painstaking attempt at open-mindedness, takes a dismissive line.) They were all looking at a puzzle with pieces missing and/or joined wrongly. It could not be otherwise, because the requisite "leg-work" and inter-textual research had just not been done, yet.

3) In a desperate moment, Bruckner himself suggested that if he did not realize the 4th movement, his Te Deum could be used in its place. (A variant of the falling "do-sol-sol-do" motiv, from the Te Deum, weaves in and out of this movement.) Of course, only the most casual musical "tourist" would overlook the paramount structural principle in any Bruckner symphony: TONAL PLANNING. That is: start in, say, the key of D; trek across the tonal spectrum or "world" - or, at least, "scale the mountain peak" ; and eventually "re-acquire" D, on a higher level. In all 11 Bruckner symphonies, THERE WAS NO EXCEPTION TO THIS...EVER. To carry out this "Te Deum" suggestion, one would have to

a) Tack a self-contained, C-major work onto the end of a vast structure which begins in D and cries out for a D ending. (Supposedly this would be done with a "clever" transition. )
b) Transpose the earlier movements DOWN a whole step, making them tonally "flush" with the Te Deum.
c) Transpose the Te Deum UP a whole step into D - which would be "moiduh" on the sopranos of the chorus - who, as it is, must end on a sustained, high C. Asking them to go up to a D, as a section, was (and is) unthinkable.

No, Bruckner made this desperate suggestion, assuming that he might not essentially realize the 4th movement. But if he HAD?....The facts indicate that, by the time of his death on October 11, 1896, he DID realize this movement. To the last measure, it was blocked out in ORCHESTRAL score (not only in piano sketches). True, the last 37 measures of the coda (i.e., the very end of the symphony) are conjectural. But even here, we have at least two clues which enabled a convincing reconstruction for a "performance edition." In those 37 measures there is a sustained D "pedal." And Bruckner told his doctor that he planned this passage as a kind of brief, orchestral "Te Deum" (or blaze of Thanksgiving). This is what we hear, with some "filling in," partly based on the "falling" Te Deum motiv; the ending of Bruckner's 1892 cantata "Helgoland" (his last "completed" work); as well as 9th's first-movement fanfare theme (which re-appears in this fourth movement, just prior to the coda). Given how close Bruckner was to completing the 4th movement, it would be pedantry, of the worst sort, to deprive listeners of a rounded-out, performable version. (In that case, while you're at it, ignore Mozart's Requiem, too.)

The "New Westphalia" play like gods, and seem to have an innate empathy with the contemplative core of Bruckner's spirit.
The first movement is truly cataclysmic and riveting. The Scherzo is successful, but some Brucknerians may object to Wildner's maintenance of a broadly common tempo between the Scherzo and Trio. (Jochum & Haitink took the Trio markedly faster, for contrast.) The Adagio is also deep and satisfying- although, some Brucknerians may find it has less "gravitas" than with Furtwangler, Karajan, Jochum or Haitink. This is partly true, since, with the 4th movement "realized," the Adagio no longer carries the burden of "ending" the symphony - and the entire output of Bruckner.

The recorded sound, while having great impact, isn't perfect. (A previous reviewer was right to mention the occasional loss of detail in the upper strings). Still, the performance comes off as "natural" and idiomatic.

For a "realized" vision of Bruckner's ideal 9th, this is as close as it gets.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wildner's ferocious Bruckner April 8 2005
By Neil E. Schore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Having read the negative review on this page, I put this recording on again. (I've already written about it at some length in comparing it to Harnoncourt's recent recording--see that listing). Lookit, people, everybody is entitled to their opinion. Nonetheless, there are a few performances out there that really get my heart rate up, and this is one of them. Bruckner's music should have real impact, and it's all here. Wildner's tempos are NOT slow; his timings are 23-11-25=59 min for movements 1-3 (for slow, try Giulini on DG from 1989--which is a superb accomplishment in its own peculiar way, if you can handle 28-11-30=69 min). Compare, for example, Harnoncourt's 24-11-24=59, Walter's 24-12-23=59, Horenstein's 25-11-24=60 (BBC), and Furtwangler's legendary and unique performance at 24-9-26=59. By the way, that 9-minute Scherzo on the Furtwangler is about as terror-inducing a performance of anything as has ever been recorded. No, what Wildner does is shape the music, allowing it to breathe quite naturally. The recording is technically effective, dynamic shadings are quite apparent, secondary lines come out because the orchestra is together and very good, and the recording (and the recording space) very clear but not dry. And you also get the substantial bonus of an effective performing version of the 4th movement. Your call, but for 12 bucks I don't think you can go wrong.
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretty exciting stuff. Feb. 29 2004
By Good Stuff - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
How does one discuss a recording of a Bruckner symphony in which the portion of most interest wasn't actually composed by Bruckner? At least not all of it.
Well, this happens to be, even without the completion, a darned good Bruckner 9th. I'm not too familiar with the work of conductor Johannes Wildner, except to say he does a fine job on this set.
However, the special interest here, of course, is the completion.
Of course, any completion of Bruckner's 9th Symphony must be speculative. I've own the recordings by Kurt Eichhorn and Yoav Talmi. Both are good. The Eichhorn somehow seems a bit more "authentic", if that is the right word. The Talmi, though a bit scrappy, is, at least to these ears, more exciting, with a brighter arrangement of the existing music written by Bruckner for the finale. I must admit to liking both, but for the different reasons stated above.
This performance, it seems to me, is the best of the three. The orchestra isn't quite as polished as Eichhorn's, but seems a bit more comfortable with the music than Talmi's Norwegian forces, although, again, what they may slightly lack in finesse they more than make up for in exhuberance. Wildner's orchestra seems to fall comfortably in the middle. It is fully capable of playing Bruckner's immensely difficult music, and it seems to fully enjoy doing so.
I found Wildner's conducting to be impassioned, nuanced, insightful, and fully up to the challange.
This version of the finale is probably the best yet. Of course, none can ever be definitive. But this, I would think, barring further discoveries, is probably as close as we are likely to get. It weaves Bruckner's existing music into a very authentic sounding and idiomatic final movement that fully brings Bruckner's symphony, and his career, to a fitting, beautiful, and rather exciting conclusion.
At the price, I just don't see how you can go wrong.
A very quick word about the recent Harnencourt recording of the 9th, which I find to be vastly overrated. The recording of the fragments is (are?) very good. However, why Harnencourt didn't opt to record a completed performance is beyond me. I just don't see the point. Without trying to sound too "elitist", it is, for all intents and purposes, about as fulfilling as sitting in a music appreciation class and having the teacher play four minutes of the Beethoven 5th as an example of everything Beethoven wrote. If Harnencourt is offering a lesson in musical composition by simply recording these fragments, well, thanks but no thanks. Been there, done that.
But, of course, that is just me.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A revelation Nov. 8 2006
By Steven de Jong - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
One can only thank Naxos for making this recording available to such a large audience.

The first three movements are decently done, I haven't listened to them enough to say more. Obviously, the Finale is the most interesting part of this 2CD set. And I must say, it is a real treat.

First of all, the CD comes with a very decent booklet in which one of the reconstructors explains their approach, the degree of authenticity of the movement's parts, and the parts they developed themselves. All in all, approximately 40 of the 660 bars were completely written by the reconstructors - the rest was either finished or drafted in various stages of completion.

Second, the movement itself sounds simply great. Most of the time, to my (unscientific but Bruckner-loving) ears, it sounds completely believable (and most of the time, it is actually Bruckner's own work). Moreover, the layering of all movements' themes over eachother in the work's majestic coda is just great, even if it was not written by Bruckner. In addition, the sense of closure achieved by the final 37-bar 'Hallelujah' is exactly what was always missing for me when listening to the Ninth. Granted, the Adagio is sublime, but the symphony just cannot end this way!

For me, there is only one notable 'glitch'; in the "second part", after the return of the epilogue theme, the first movement's main theme reappears, and even though this is a nice idea, it does not sound as if Bruckner would have done it this way. Interestingly, two of the reconstructors have worked on a new revision (in 2006) which actually omits this reappearance.

Summarizing, this CD is a must-have for anyone interested in Bruckner and familiar with the three-movement uncompleted Ninth. Add to this the facts that the CD actually has a incredibly friendly price AND offers a fine rendition of the first three movements, and I really see no reason why not to buy it.
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