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Bruckner: Symphony No. 9
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Bruckner: Symphony No. 9

5 April 2005 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Jan. 2003
  • Release Date: 5 April 2005
  • Label: LSO Live
  • Copyright: 2002 London Symphony Orchestra Ltd
  • Total Length: 1:05:33
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001L8TPFQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 369,984 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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Format: Audio CD
I am perplexed by the negative response to this CD. First the recording. The Barbican acoustics may be somewhat close and airless but this in no way detracts from my listening pleasure. And there is much pleasure to be derived from Davis's interpretation. I first came across Sir Colin's Bruckner in his interpretation of the sixth in which he conducted a deeply moving slow movement (a necessary corrective to Klemperer's, whose slow movement is just too fast). Then there is his seventh on Orfeo where the exultation of the final pages is wonderfully realized. This ninth is similarly inspired. The fact that Bruckner, in his last two symphonies, placed the scherzo as the second movement suggests that the two surrounding movements can be played as slow movements. In this light Davis's 28'33" first movement is by no means controversially slow. In any case such is the conductor's shaping of the music that it never drags. The long phrases are invested with emotional inflexions (but without the exaggerated push-and-pull of, say, Barbirolli's reading of the eighth) that keep the listener involved. And there is always the sense of the overall architecture of the symphonic argument. I suspect those who are attuned to Davis's interpretation of the Elgar symphonies (all 3 of them also on 'LSO Live') will find much to like in this rather neglected disc.
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Not the best of the versions out there - but still worth your consideration
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x8c0e6408) out of 5 stars 7 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c46fde0) out of 5 stars Disappointing recording of great piece by great conductor 15 Jan. 2003
By Mark Shanks - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Bruckner is no ordinary symphonist, and even among his symphonies, the 9th stands out as "special". Bruckner died before completing the fourth movement, although he did leave behind extensive sketches. But unlike Mahler's 10th, or the Mozart Requiem, there has been very little interest in "completing" this work, as its 3-movement structure is in itself completely satisfying and I, for one, would no more think of tacking on a "finale" than I would of sticking chrome-plated plastic arms on the Venus de Milo. You might guess that I have about a dozen recordings of this symphony - I never tire of hearing it though new interpretations. Sir Colin Davis makes what I believe to be his Bruckner-recording debut with this release, recorded live at the Barbican in February 2002.

Sir Colin made a reputation for himself back in the 60's with his fire-eating recordings of Berlioz, and in the 70's with his first Sibelius cycle with the Boston Symphony. I've always been a fan of his, especially with Dvorak and Sibelius, and was eager to hear his "take" on Bruckner. Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

This performance is taken at a VERY slow pace - slower than Furtwangler's 1944, slower than Jochum, Karajan, or Tintner. The first movement suffers the most - at 28'33", it is eventually drained of life and the brass coda is stretched out of shape. The strings are recorded well but sound sluggish rather than sumptuous. The scherzo is *longer* than most other recordings but the reason isn't the actual tempo - for reasons best known to himself, Sir Colin inserts pauses (virtually stops) between sections. This creates (to my ear) a "gear-grinding" effect rather than the stamping malevolence I would normally associate with this movement. The finale is taken at a more usual pace, but I get no sense of either "architecture" (Karajan-style) nor of "spiritualism" (a la Jochum)- more like music by the book. At no extra charge, you get a howler printed in the liner notes: Bruckner's dates are given as 1906-1975!

So - not my recommended performance, not even 2nd, 3rd, or 4th place. MY #1 choice is Jochum with the Berlin Philharmonic (NOT the Dresden recording), followed by Furtwangler (as far as I know, the many issues on many labels out there are ALL the same 1944 performance, again with the BPO). Sir Colin's recording of the Bruckner 6th should be available in Spring 2003, and I *will* be checking that out.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8ca1772c) out of 5 stars One of the worst recordings of Bruckner' 9ths on the market 25 Aug. 2009
By Transfigured Knight - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Sir Colin Davis is no Bruckner conductor. Not even close. Why he thought he could handle the unfinished 9th symphony is beyond me. His conducting, which I like but certainly not here, is not forceful or powerful enough. Davis' detail oriented approach does not work with Bruckner's music. Why did Davis think he could perform Bruckner? What possessed him to do such a thing? Money? Politics? Trying to please somebody? I don't know, but his tempos and building of climaxes are awful and so out-of-tune with the music. The LSO also play terrible here (must have caught them on an off-night) and clearly can't handle the sheer brute force it takes to pull off this symphony.

Davis should be commended for treading into unknown territory (for him), but many times it doesn't work, and this recording is further proof of this notion. He's simply no match for Wand, Chailly, Karajan, or even Barenboim (who isn't that great of a conductor).
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c355120) out of 5 stars What Accoustic? 28 Sept. 2007
By Andre Gauthier - Published on
Format: Audio CD
The 9th Symphony of Bruckner is currently represented in the catalogue by no less than 73 different recordings. Many are duplicates by such greats as Karajan, Jochum and Giulini (the last being my favorite version with the Vienna Philharmonic in the 1980s.) Far more are represented by conductors only once and that is the case with the London Symphony Orchestra version with Colin Davis recorded in the Barbican Center in London in 2002. I never thought of Davis as a Brucknerian, as great conductors of Berlioz don't always seem to find the same affinity for the ultra Catholic Bruckner that they do for the great innovative Frenchman. But this live recording is a pretty good first shot on CD for this most esteemed musician. I say "live" because four performances and probably rehearsals were recorded and then spliced together to rid the CD of any audience noise. I don't understand, then, why the many slips in intonation and ensemble in the orchestra are left in place when they were surely correct on another occasion. If the same mistakes occurred in every recording of the live performance then the orchestra was just having trouble in what is without question a pretty bad acoustic. I don't think it is often used to make commercial recordings. You may wonder why this is so important to me. The Bruckner 9th, above all his symphonic works, requires an acoustic that gives the feeling of a sanctuary. It should never sound, on CD at least, as though it is being played in a non-reverberant acoustic. The engineer, Tony Faulkner, a well known name in recording circles, is a minimalist when it comes to microphones, and he achieves a terrific stereo spectrum, with first and second strings wonderfully (and rarely) divided on the left and right. But even he cannot make a bad acoustic sound good. I will give him credit for not adding any noticeable false acoustic to the CD. That's what makes him such a good engineer. So now you know my complaints about this performance.

Colin Davis will always be among my favorite conductors and I've heard him in person many times. He is always interesting and often shows genius in his work. When I noticed that the first movement of this Haas edition recording was over 28 minutes long I was VERY surprised. Almost everyone else brings it in at about 23 minutes. Only Giulini, in a performance that gazes into the beyond, dares to attempt the same sort of timing. Of course he did so under ideal conditions, so a lot of the stretching that goes on comes off far better for the Italian than the English conductor. None the less, it is actually hard to find any real fault in this performance because Davis paces things in a way that only he is able. For instance the opening of the movement is taken quite freely. There is always a sense of holding things back. When we come to the gigantic first climax one gets the idea of what Davis will do with the rest of the piece. As to whether or not this long taffy pull on the tempo works, well, I'm not sure yet. This is so slow it means that the listener must consider everything that is going on to the exclusion of anything else. It's hard to concentrate so deeply and for so long. But it does pay off. When the opening climax comes back in the middle section of the first movement, where the strings play descending scales as an accompaniment, this version is thrilling. But then there are other moments where the dull acoustic simply defeats this approach.

The second movement goes along its clunky way very nicely, no problems there.

The final movement reaches the celestial heights that it aims for in the score. But again, this is a long ride, and with the acoustic it can sound pedestrian if one doesn't concentrate on the music rather than the overall experience. I wish Davis (and Faulkner for that matter) would have insisted on making the CD in Royal Albert Hall or Walthamstow Town Hall to capture the elegance that the maestro brings to this 9th. But they didn't and it is only to Davis' detriment that the Barbican is used instead. I think this is worth the money if you can find it for well less than the normal price.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c0d3d14) out of 5 stars Decent Bruckner, but great LSO sound 20 Jan. 2004
By John Kwok - Published on
Format: Audio CD
If you are going to buy a Bruckner symphony recording merely for an orchestra's sound, then this recording is recommended solely for this reason. It may be the best recording of the 9th symphony I own purely for technical reasons. However, it doesn't rank nearly as well as recordings of this symphony I have heard from the likes of Bernstein, Giulini, Haitink, Karajan, and especially Jochum, with the Dresden Staatskapelle (not the Berlin Philharmonic Deutsche Grammophon recording). All of the ones I've cited are either rich with passion or technically precise, opting for brisker tempi than Davis's. To his credit Sir Colin Davis is forging a memorable musical partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra, raising it in stature to among the top ten, if not five, symphony orchestras in the world. But unfortunately, Davis isn't nearly as interesting a conductor of Bruckner as he is of Berlioz, Sibelius or Beethoven.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8c0d5210) out of 5 stars What was going on 29 Mar. 2011
By Glen A. Gill - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I waited to write this until I heard the 6th by Sir Colin and the LSO. Some suggested it was the Barbican accoutics. Well, if the 6th is any indicator, the problem is not the Barbican.
Simply, this recording should be avoided at all costs. It is not a matter of interpretation but sound. It is dreadful. For a live recording, there is no life to it at all. It sounded like the orchestra was under a pillow.
I do not know who the engineers were, but they should turn in their union cards.
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