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Customer reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars

on 24 January 2016
While there may be more distinguished performances of the three movement version, this 2 -disc CD is all about the 4 -movement version. The present reconstruction is the last word - unless some of the missing pages turn up. The booklet, I was pleased to see, explains what Bruckner wrote of it and what had gone missing.

Essentially, he had prepared a score of 650 bars of finale, completed the 2 stave piano version and then orchestrated it. So far as I can tell, all of it, except the coda. As is well -known to anyone with an interest in the Finale, some pages were taken as keepsakes and there was some confusion about how the remaining score fitted together. As Sir Simon Rattle has explained, the completion team had in the end to 'compose' only 28 bars using Bruckner's material.

Rattle's performance of the symphony with finale has an element of explaining as it goes along. What I liked about this Wildner CD was that it was all of a piece. It was played as though the four -movement version has been performed for decades. While the first disc has the three movements, so three -movement traditionalists can just play that and keep the finale as a curiosity, I now know that you cannot understand the work without the Finale.

It was never a favourite of mine until now because there was so much that didn't seem to add up - as though Bruckner was experimenting with ideas that had no resolution. Well - the finale makes sense of it all and, I for one cannot see that (knowing what is to come) you can listen to the first three movements without needing the finale to resolve it all.

While listening to the slow movement and expecting it to sound like a last farewell, I found myself thinking "this isn't the end - there is something to come".. Perhaps subjective, But I can't live with just three movements anymore.

As I say, this performance is played as though we were used to hearing it in 4 movements. The famed trumpet discord (Bruckner wrote "Gut" underneath, meaning 'That's right!") is not as obtrusive as in Rattle's version. I had to listen carefully to be sure it hadn't been 'corrected'. It's there. And the reference to the 1st movement of Beethoven's 9th in the fugal section, which sounds just too much like Beethoven in Rattle's performance sounds like Bruckner recalling it. And the final bars of Coda in Rattle sounded to me like pastiche Bruckner written to finish the thing off. In this Wildner performance it sounds convincingly like Bruckner. Even the last slowed -down bar or so produces a significant trumpet discord that makes the ending satisfying.

That's why I like this CD. I can listen to it with no doubts or reservations. This is great Bruckner, and I wonder whether it isn't the best finale he wrote. Time will tell. .
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on 23 May 2016
Fantastic rendering of the complete 4 movements of an utterly transcendent, awe-inspiring symphony. Wildner's interpretation is very committed, serious and intense, so is the orchestral playing. Rattle, Harding and other innovative conductors have now recorded the symphony complete, but Wildner chooses to use my favourite version of the 4th movement completion. There is of course no definitive reconstruction and no way of ever knowing what Bruckner would have finally written. So the choice of which version you prefer must be entirely personal to you, the listener. For me, this 2001 SMPC completion is the best from among this team's various attempts and those of all other musicologists. The coda really works. In keeping with Bruckner's tendency, the 4th movement comes to a halt for a few moments of intensely hushed silence. Then the coda starts, very soft and mysterious, swirling strings gradually building up to a gigantic climax, the triumphant conclusion to a symphony of shattering, despairing, marvellous power.
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on 28 July 2013
Sadly, Naxos have shot themselves directly and uncommonly in the foot.
By pricing this release at 2 CD price - albeit Naxos x 2 - and offering only 23 mins on the second CD,
I am sure they have put off many potential buyers. Hence this glorious performance has very much
slid under the radar. AND Yes, the reconstructed finale is well worth getting to know - it works.
Wildner is a true, honest and pure Brucknerian and conjours up a superb, commited performance from
his orchestra which, while not reaching the sterile heights of the BPO, sound characterful, marvellous and
utterly appropriate to the music.
This is no hyped up, micro-managed sound package..... this is the 'real' [?] thing.
I beg you to listen to these discs - whether or not you have been sucked into the Rattle/BPO
media machine while suspending your own judgement - you will be fully rewarded.
The finale, which somehow in under Rattle fails to convince, has no such problems here.
Also, go for the same forces Bruckner 3 issue , again on Naxos, with both the original and later revised versions
of this underrated work - again, on a double CD.... but equally well worth it.
I can't help feeling these 2 'twice the price' issues have contributed to not hearing more of this
conductor - in Bruckner or other works. A real regret.
If you get half the pleasure from these performances as I have - you feel you've spent your pennies well !
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on 31 March 2011
I share the opinions of earlier reviewers here that this performance merits a very strong "Buy":
(a) The orchestra are excellent - clearly well studied and rehearsed, and yet sounding fresh. Some of the phrasing in the woodwind is utterly inspired!
(b) The recording is very good indeed: tonally first-rate, plenty of dynamic range, and nicely balanced (the horns are equal to the rest of the brass, and the string and the woodwind detail is still to be heard amid the tutti)
(c) The extra movement (this will take me some getting used to after 35 years of accepting it as a 3-movement unfinished work). At the moment it seems a bit odd and detached, but I will work on it.
(d) The conductor seems to have really got under the skin of Bruckner. Where he occasionally deviates from "conventional" readings, you feel that he does this from the heart, and there are flashes of interpretive genius along the way: more than once I found myself saying "Yes!" to myself, aloud. These more than outweigh the (for me) excessive legato of the opening strings in the first movement - my only surprise on the downside.

For me, Gunter Wand will always be the most sublime of Bruckner interpreters, but this CD shows that there is a place of honour for able conductors with other approaches.
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on 9 February 2013
I had never listened to Bruckner before hearing this on the radio one night. I was hooked, this is a very strong piece and for all the arguments about the final reconstructed movement, to the non-trained ear it fits in very successfully. Though this is not a world renowned orchestra, the playing and recording quality are both excellent. Wildner drives the NPO of Westphalia forward and manages to balance the bright brassiness with depth and colour from the strings. In the opening movement the main theme is allowed to flow, and though the second movement has a powerful momentum, Wildner manages to bring lightness to it. And the third and final movements both have a marvellous lyrical quality. A wonderful recording.
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on 29 December 2015
A fine account of a work for which thanks is owed to the the composer and the musicologists who created a performing version of the otherwise part-finished final movement. For me, this symphony represents something of a gear-change from Bruckner's earlier (complete) symphonies in that it seems much darker in mood, albeit ending with affirmation. This performance shows that the Westphalians know their Brucknerian craft.
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on 13 May 2007
Look through the NAXOS catalogue and this CD set has been strangely overlooked in the awards stakes. But this is a stunning effort and the finale is just breathtaking. No doubt there are those who may be offended by this completion, but the original three movement work still exists, so why not enjoy a look into what might have been, and wake up the neighbours in the process? Another bargain NAXOS find. 5 stars.
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on 5 September 2014
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on 31 August 2010
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!
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on 16 December 2004
I also have the earlier Carragan completion of this symphony on Chandos (CHAN 7051) which I enjoy, but this completion is substantially different and probably closer to Bruckner's vision. It is also a first class performance. I think it would be a mistake to buy an incomplete performance when you can have the completed symphony, even though it is not pure Bruckner, because it contains wonderful music which is probably not too far from the truth; certainly Bruckner wanted it to be heard as four movements because he suggested using his Te Deum as an alternative to the 4th movement.
I do not understand why orchestras rarely perform the 4th movement - there is no longer any excuse.
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