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A Bruckner 9th Without the Finale? Not Anymore!,
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This review is from: Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 (with reconstructed Finale) (Audio CD)
Let me start by saying that I am well acquainted with all of Bruckner's 9 published symphonies (in all their various editions, along with his "0" and "00" study symphonies), his wondrous Te Deum, Mass in D minor and even his rather obscure string quartet & quintet. I know the REAL Bruckner sound when I hear it, so I approached this Bruckner 9th - with newly reconstructed 4th movement Finale - with more than a little apprehension...
...and the fact that the symphony was performed by the provincial Philharmonic Orchestra of Westphalia (where?) and conducted by Johannes Wildner (who?) and recorded for the super-budget Naxos label (huh?), didn't help in the least to ease my growing uncertainties.
I freely admit that my skepticism was simply shameful!
But I'm overjoyed to report that ALL my unreasonable fears and misgivings were completely unfounded! Make no mistake about it, from opening Misterioso to closing (reconstructed) Misterioso, this is a magnificent recording!
It's so good, in fact, that I can't imagine ever listening to Bruckner's 9th again without the reconstructed Finale! I also can't imagine WHY this recording didn't make a bigger impact when it was released way back in 2003?! The answer is surely a sadly simple one: "If it's not recorded by Decca, Philips, Deutsche Grammophon or EMI, it's surely not worth listening to!"
But if there ever was a recording to place Naxos in the same exalted league as the aforementioned "Big Wigs," this is definitely the one!
Everything from the lovely and completely idiomatic sound of the Westphalia players (I've never heard the VPO sound this Viennese!), the absolutely right tempo and rubato choices by conductor Wildner (Giulini's Bruckner 9th should sound positively lethal after this!) and the shinning glory of that Finale-Misterioso reconstruction (where has this music been all my life?!) combine to create a completely convincing "live" concert experience that has to be heard - preferably with a very good pair of audiophile headphones - to be believed.
For many years, I've held to the "truth" that Gunter Wand's Bruckner 9th, with the incomparable "singing strings" of the Berliner Philharmoniker, would never be surpassed in our lifetime. This Wildner recording may not exceed the ethereal Wand recording, but with the addition of that amazing Finale (which sounds for all the world as if Bruckner himself gave Samale, Philips & Co. a helping hand to finally complete his greatest masterpiece!), and the New Philharmonic Westphalians rising to heights even beyond those attained by the legendary BPO, this is a Bruckner 9th to stand beside the greatest Bruckner recordings of all time!
Musicological, philosophical and moralistic questions aside (and let's face facts: Mahler's incomplete 10th Symphony was reconstructed with far less material than the Bruckner 9th Finale was!), this is one of the most intensely satisfying 82 minutes of music you may ever hear! Please, I beg of you, do me (and Anton Bruckner) a favor and be sure to hear this before your glorious days in the sunshine have forever turned to night.
Highly and extravagantly recommended!