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Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 9 in D minor (1896) ed. Nowak [1951]
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks/Mariss Jansons
rec. live, 13-17 January 2014, Philharmonie, Munich
BR KLASSIK 900173 [57.10]

This recording has already been glowingly reviewed on MWI and I can certainly add my endorsement of it as thoroughly recommendable and enjoyable. The Bavarian Radio Orchestra has claims to being one of the world’s best, and on this showing enhances both its own and its Latvian conductor’s reputations. I am unclear why the release of this composite recording, presumably made from various live performances in the Gasteig Philharmonie over several days, was delayed until over five years had elapsed but it is a superb addition to Jansons’ projected Bruckner series of which so far the Eighth Symphony in particular has garnered high praise.

This is a taut, grand interpretation, offering not the etiolated agony of Giulini’s psychomachia but more a lirico-dramatic outpouring which underlies the composer’s indebtedness to Wagner; the brass and Wagner tubas in particular are especially prominent. I can imagine nothing more glorious than the triumphant coda of the first movement as it is executed here. The Scherzo is characterised by the demonic intensity and crushing weight of its hammer blows and the grim humour of its Trio is disconcerting. Jansons’ approach is one of cumulative impact; he does not deliver apotheosis too soon, but instead we are led to perceive the three movements as an arcing, unified whole leading to the transcendence of the conclusion of the Adagio, which is both extraordinarily grandiloquent yet searingly heart-rending; the halo of strings in the chord at 14:00 is delivered more swiftly than most yet is typically piercing. However, these days I like to hear a performance of the Ninth crowned by one of the several viable completions of the fourth movement, too, especially now that Gerd Schaller’s revision of his stupendous version has been released.

The sound engineering here, overseen by Wilhelm Meister, is flawless and audience noise non-existent, although I hope Jansons’ audible groans don’t start to become as intrusive as Colin Davis’ in his latter years.

Ralph Moore

Previous review: Michael Cookson

(This review reproduced here by kind permission of The Bruckner Journal which commissioned it.)


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