Notes & Reviews:
Anton Brucker died before he was able to complete the final fourth movement of his Ninth Symphony, and in the years since then the work has become accepted in its three movement form, ending with his bittersweet "Farewell to Life" Adagio. However, in recent years scholars have gradually built an argument for an epic finale which incorporates and eclipses all of the previous movements, closing the work with a triumphant, transcendent brass chorale.
Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in this exciting new recording featuring the 2011 revision by Samale/Mazzuca/Phillips/Cohrs (SMPC) - arguably the most comprehensive and accurate. In what is regarded as the definitive form of the Ninth Symphony, this is the first recording of a new revision of the SMPC Complete Performance Version which proposes a way to realize Bruckner's intention of combining themes from all four movements, based on more than 600 bars of incomplete autograph score, sketches and drafts.
Recently Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic gave the American premiere of the score at Carnegie Hall on February 24, 2012. The New York Times praised the premiere: "It was fascinating to hear this monumental symphony performed with [its new] final movement. After a quizzical opening and a strong statement of the main theme there are stretches of fitful counterpoint, brass chorales and ruminative passages that take you by surprise. Overall the music pulses with a hard-wrought insistence that crests with a hallelujah coda."
"The lustre of the Berlin Philharmonic’s horns and strings is marvellous to behold; phrasing often is velvet-smooth. Whatever the mood, Rattle’s players deliver with passion...At the same time, Rattle’s love of high drama may be indulged a fraction too much...Rattle conducts with missionary zeal, as if he believes in every note. And so he should." -The Times
The Arts Desk
Rattle is less interventionist than one might expect and surer of the work's structure. Bruckner's harmonies were never so daring as they were here - the scream of pain in the Adagio really terrifies...But the effect [the finale] has on one's perception of the earlier movements is harder to come to terms with. This is essential listening, though -the Berlin brass are stunning in the last few minutes.
Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic played it for the first time in February, and this recording is taken from those performances. Whether you like Rattle's approach or not - and sometimes, in the first movement especially, he pushes the music forward rather than letting it fill its natural space - the result seems authentic.
While there is undeniable logicality in the endless climbing repetitions and the echoes of the vaunting Wagnerian touches from the first movement, the added movement does tend to detract from the particularly fine treatment of the third movement Adagio.
The lustre of the Berlin Philharmonic's horns and strings is marvellous to behold; phrasing often is velvet-smooth. Whatever the mood, Rattle's players deliver with passion...At the same time, Rattle's love of high drama may be indulged a fraction too much...Rattle conducts with missionary zeal, as if he believes in every note. And so he should.
International Record Review, June 2012
In 82-minute work complete with a final movement of sufficiently convincing Brucknerian symphonic argument, sound and scale. In short, a revelation...Lingering doubts from earlier Brucknerian encounters with Rattle are swept away...Finer advocacy and a more transforming experience from these live performances are difficult to imagine.
bbc.co.uk, 10th July 2012
The performance as a whole is utterly compelling. Rattle fully engages with the gripping drama of Bruckner's music...The climax is thrillingly majestic - the truly triumphant ending that Bruckner wanted. Rattle proves emphatically that there should be no more excuses for depriving the work of its resounding finale.
Gramophone Magazine, August 2012
Rattle's performance is consistently involving. The vast arches and sudden climate changes in the Adagio third movement are particularly well handled...I can't think of many recent releases that are more musically important than this. If you love Bruckner's Ninth, you have a duty to hear it; and if you don't as yet know it and learn it from Rattle's recording, then you're in a very privileged position.
BBC Music Magazine, September 2012
Rattle assuredly paces the music's long paragraphs and musters a sense of the monumental...[His] interpretation...encompasses the full gamut of emotions from tenderness and nostalgia to some amazingly apocalyptic climaxes.
American Record Guide, March / April 2013
This movement works with a lean sonority and it works with a rich sonority. He's rather strict in tempos and uses a wide dynamic and tonal range. I hear many lovely moments. The music itself is endlessly interesting. The finale here is even more impressive than in the Wildner performance. In both performances, the finale "fits" very well with the first three movements, and the four scholars who worked so hard through so many editions to bring this movement to the listening public have every right to be proud.
Recording information: Philharmonie, Berlin (02/07/2012-02/09/2012).
Submitted on 10/30/14 by Michael Kush
Works DetailsBruckner, Anton : Symphony no 9 in D minor, WAB 109
- Conductor: Simon Rattle
- Ensemble: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
- Notes: Philharmonie, Berlin (02/07/2012-02/09/2012)
- Running Time: 58 min. 48 sec.
- Period Time: Romantic
- Form: Orchestral
- Written: 1887-1896
- Studio/Live: Live