- Symphony No. 9 in D minor, WAB 109
As a leader in the movement for historically informed performance, Roger Norrington has consistently applied scholarship to the music of the 18th and 19th centuries and produced recordings of the classics in period style on original instruments. This has usually involved researching the appropriate instrumentation of the period, following seating plans for typical orchestras, and pursuing documentation from contemporary sources on the way the music was played in its time. Norrington's forays into music from the Classical and early Romantic eras have been the most satisfying because of the insights they provide into the composers' expectations and the results they probably got. This 2010 performance of Anton Bruckner's "Symphony No. 9 in D minor" ostensibly presents the music in the manner it would have been heard in the 1890s, with an orchestra laid out according to the Viennese style, with articulation and phrasing that would have been commonplace, and with slightly faster tempos than are heard elsewhere. Also noticeable is the absence of 20th century vibrato in the strings, which Viennese orchestras likely didn't start using until 1938. So in terms of sound, this is thought to be close to what Bruckner might have heard in 1896, had he lived to complete the "Ninth" and heard it played.
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Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Thankfully, there appear to be fewer editions of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony than his other symphonies, which should make it comparisons easier. Apart from a few versions, almost all offer the 1894 version of this symphony with only the first three movements, because Bruckner left only sketches for the finale. There are, however, several editions, including those by L. Nowak, A. Orel, and B. Cohrs. Four-movement offerings include a 1992 version with the finale, of length 20:19, completed by N. Samale, J. Phillips, B. Cohrs, and G. Mazzuca; and a 2010 version with the finale, of length 22:12, completed by W. Carragan. If you prefer a four-movement version, then this new CD from Haenssler, with Sir Roger Norrington conducting South West German Radio Symphony Orchestra, won’t be your choice. If you prefer a three-movement version, then this CD offers excellent sound quality. Under Sir Roger, the opening, marked Feierlich, misterioso (solemnly, mysterious) is indeed both solemn and mysterious. The measured pace in the Scherzo seems right to me; it is neither too fast (which can make it sound like someone laughing hysterically) nor too slow (which makes it drag), and the central Trio is appropriately light and airy. I found Sir Roger's version of the Adagio, marked Langsam feierlich (slowly, solemnly), very disappointing. With a timing of 18:11, it is definitely on the fast side compared with others. The performance time of many versions is around 22 minutes, and one version lasts 29 minutes. Perhaps because I am used to the finale being taken more slowly and with more emotion, I found Sir Roger's interpretation of it to be superficial and lacking in charm; thus, I was left with the overall reaction that two well-conducted movements are followed by one that is tossed off as if Sir Roger either doesn't like it or is bored with it. Ted Wilks