- Symphony No. 9 in D minor, WAB 109
Anton Bruckner left the finale of his "Symphony No. 9 in D minor" incomplete upon his death, and for a century or so the three extant movements were regularly performed as a torso, with rare attempts to provide some kind of substitute ending. However, the finale was more substantially composed than many hitherto realized, with large sections fully orchestrated by Bruckner or nearly realized in short score, and with only a few connecting episodes missing. Nicola Samale, Giuseppe Mazzuca, Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs, and John Alan Phillips have devoted years to fleshing out different completions of Bruckner's finale, piecing together all the available fragments, and the version used in this 2011 recording is a combined scholarly effort that is a compelling and convincing conclusion to the work. Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic play with genuine sympathy and deep feeling for Bruckner's intentions, and give the whole symphony a coherent treatment. Rattle's special knack for Bruckner undoubtedly has a lot to do with the successful integration of the finale into the Ninth, and this recording may go a long way toward winning support for this completion. The temptation to cut to the finale will be great, especially among eager Brucknerians who know the Ninth well. But allow the whole recording to unfold and hear the finale in the proper context to understand its appropriateness and consistency with the drama of the previous movements. Highly recommended.