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on 10 February 2016
The opening passages of this recording of Bruckner's 9th. Symphony with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) provides a firm idea of what will be the approach to the music, and especially to give a foretaste of what is to come with the realised fourth movement. Rattle has commented that Bruckner wrote this symphony at a time when he was "experiencing terror, fear and passion in his life". So, the music is suitably, sober, even a little sombre, as it moves into what would be Bruckner's, and perhaps the 19th. century's, last statement on the symphonic form.
What we have in this recording, however, is the pre-eminent German orchestra and one of the foremost British conductors of his generation. The recording combines the best features of orchestra and conductor, as well as a most acceptable recording quality - a spacious recording that enables the various parts of the orchestra to register their contribution. As he has shown with his presentation of the Mahler's symphonies, Rattle is very much inside the heavyweight music of the Northern European tradition. His dramatic style fits the demands of both the music and the composer. He enjoys directing the long, sonorous passages, the quicker, more quirky musical interludes, the impressive and arresting climaxes, the bold musical statements and melodious connecting pieces that a Bruckner symphony includes. Combine all with an orchestra that plays without a musical note out of place and you have a recording that can be returned to over and over again.
This is especially so with the addition of the Samale/Phillips/Cohrs/Mazzuca performing version of the score of the fourth and final movement of Bruckner's 9th. It is reported that Bruckner had already outlined at least 90% of the score, so the realisation of the fourth movement has a genuine air of authenticity. Guided by Rattle, the BPO certainly play the final movement as if it had been in place from the beginning of the symphony's existence. The performing version should, therefore, present few, if any, problems for the aficionados of this composer.
The highly recommendable, mellow yet persuasive, version of Bruckner's 9th. Symphony, with Bruno Walter and the Columbia SO, from 1959, provides this now-recognised unfinished version of the symphony with a noble, if not resigned, conclusion, after which, in the words of the Penguin Guide, "anything would have been an anti-climax". Rattle and the BPO require this viewpoint not only to be challenged but overturned. In so doing, it changes the whole perspective on the role and explanation of this symphony in Bruckner's output.
The cover note of this CD states that Bruckner left a "stark and magnificent torso", as well as leaving "fragments and sketches for a magnificent finale that would cap his life's work." Rattle himself has said that this realisation of the fourth and final movement of Bruckner's 9th. Symphony "crowns his musical last will and testament with an intense and visionary splendour." The nobility of the third movement remains, but its resignation is removed and replaced with a fuller affirmation of his belief in life.
The final movement of the 9th. Symphony may not be, as yet, as memorable in terms of emotional content as the final movements of, for example, the 3rd. or 8th. symphonies. Nevertheless, this performing version has all the ingredients for a musical feast to satisfy most Brucknerian tastes.With this recording comes the recognisable Gothic architecture of the Bruckner symphony. However, the symphonic output of this composer concludes with the structure being filled with warmth and humanity.
The completed four movement version of the 9th. Symphony is a must for any Bruckner collection.
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on 6 November 2014
I have become used to the idea of Bruckner's ninth tailing off into infinite quiet. It was only a very short while ago that I heard about the recovery and reconstruction of its finale. Having read up on it, It seemed that the efforts to rebuild it had recently reached a point of resolution: that Simon rattle and the BPO had recorded a version clinched it for me. An orchestra with a peerless reputation and heritage in Bruckner with the great Rattle.

The firt three, familiar movements are as good as one would expect - I have not noticed any surprises. Of course the main interest is in the final movement, and it is just totally Brucknerian. Burnished steel slabs of sound, interspersed with delicate wisps of detail. It is a magnificent peroration to his work. Bruckner no longer goes out with a whimper: now he dances his way out triumphantly.

A wonderful reconstruction. Hearty congratulations to the quartet of scholars who realised this..
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on 28 October 2013
As an out-an-out Bruckner nut, I had to get Rattles Ninth with the completed finale. And was not wholly disappointed.
I'm usually a fan of the 3-movement torso of the work which is by far the most popular version. Because I think that no-one can successfully capture the true spirit and sound world of Bruckner. But I have to say the brilliant musicologists/musicians have done a fair job in completing this mighty work.
Hand on heart I would say that Bruckner would have not ended this finale so succinctly as performed here but it must be close.
What they have done is melded Bruckners own score fragments with their own "idea" of what Bruckner may have written down.
I'm not wholly convinced but it's close!!
Please don't buy this recording because it is a great performance of Bruckner 9 - It's not. There are sound quality issues and Rattles approach to the Adagio 3rd movement seems erratic. We are not talking Gunther Wand, Jochum or even Karajan here. Actually I think the finale is the best played of the 4 movements.
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on 6 January 2014
It all makes sense! Of course this symphony is not about death, the finale is so life affirming. The last movement indeed contains elements that are of the same pathos as Te Deum and I guess that's why Bruckner suggested using it as the finale. It sounds so very much authentic. Bruckner dedicated it to "the beloved God" and what a masterpiece he has given us. Rattle's interpretation of the whole work, not just the finale, is also very inspiring. I have been listening to the first three movements for over twenty years and I think Rattle is as good as Walter, Giulini, Karajan, Celibidache, and Jochum. If you like Bruckner, you must have this. Five stars!
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on 29 December 2013
I don't always respond to Rattle's rummaging round the hedgerows, but this, from the very opening, sounds 'right'. It may not have all the angst of Jochum or Harnoncourt but it is, I think, a great performance and it does come enhanced with a convincing performance of the fairly convincing realisation of the last movement. One to have.
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on 22 November 2017
An amazing account of a great masterpiece. The completion is utterly astounding.
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on 19 December 2017
Fascinating. As usual Rattle excels technically but leaves me cold.
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on 31 December 2016
This performance is outstanding. Even if you disagree with the musicology of the reconstructed fourth movement, the Berliner Philharmoniker under Rattle give it all their heart.
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on 19 June 2016
Great performance and good to hear the symphony in it's intended 4 movements.
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on 10 December 2012
After almost 120 years, and thanks to the patient work of 4 musicologist who dedicated 30 years to rediscover in the archives and private collections the music Bruckner wrote in his late year of life, we are able to hear his last masterpiece in a quite complete form.
It is very clear when listening at this CD that sir Simon Rattle did a great job with the music of the Finale, which is frequently surprising and harsh, unexpected and difficult to understand at the first time, but more and more convincing when you hear it more times. He offers a magnificent interpretation of the symphony as a whole, as a four-movements work as Bruckner conceived it. The Finale for the first time shows a convincing Coda with makes a lot of sense and Rattle does his best to transmit all the feelings Bruckner put into his last music. Thanks, Mr. Samale, Mr. Mazucca, Mr.Cohrs, Mr. Phillips, Mr. Cohrs for your magnificent job, and Sir Simon and EMI to allow us to be part of this fantastic event.
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