Bruckner - Symphony No.9
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Label: LSO Live
Cat No: LSO0746
Number of Discs: 1
Release Date: 10th February 2014
ArtistsLondon Symphony Orchestra
Bernard Haitink, internationally renowned for his interpretations of Bruckner, returns at the helm of the London Symphony Orchestra following his acclaimed recording for the label of the fourth Symphony.
Bruckner’s symphonies are often described as ‘Gothic cathedrals in sound’, an apt description considering the composer’s devout faith and early vocation as an organist. He died before he could finish his 9th Symphony but within its three movements can be found some of his most complete music, imbued with a sense of deep solace and resolution.
"Even by Haitink’s already impressive standards, this was really special … the grand masses of Brucknerian sound could not have been delivered by anyone else … A gripping Brucknerian evening" - ***** The Guardian
"a far-reaching symphonic journey and a special occasion." - Classical Source
"Throughout, the LSO played with total conviction, the brass overwhelming in their assault on the shattering climaxes of the first movement, the indomitable hammering of a steady-paced and brutal Scherzo, and the final dissonant catastrophe that crowns the Adagio … It was very moving – indeed, absolutely shattering." - bachtrack.com
The Europadisc Review
Released just a few weeks before Bernard Haitink's 85th birthday (4th March), this disc of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra represents the culmination of a career spent by the Dutch conductor with the music of the Austrian composer. It is almost half a century since Haitink's first recording of the Ninth (with the Concertgebouw in 1965), and in that time his view of the music has broadened appreciably (adding a good five minutes to the overall running time), but it has also ripened and deepened.
This is a measured and slow-burning performance that builds gradually but surely to its climaxes. Though unhurried, it feels neither detached nor measured, and such is the essential rightness of its internal tempo relationships that one barely registers any slowness, while at the same time becoming aware of an immense sense of space which belies the recording venue (the Barbican Hall in London). Above all, Haitink knows how this music breathes, and he shapes it in gloriously long paragraphs, so that there is always a palpable sense of long-term direction.
In the first movement, he is careful not to play his hand too early at the first tutti, holding power in reserve for later in the movement. The second subject is exquisitely poised, and the woodwind and horn solos are nicely balanced and detailed. The transitions to the development and coda are particularly haunting, while the coda itself is overwhelming in its cumulative power. (Haitink foregoes the retouching of the timpani line that characterised his earlier recordings, now following Bruckner's original score.)
As might be expected, the Scherzo is weighty and demonic, horns cutting splendidly through the textures, yet the Trio flows along with a remarkable agility and lightness of touch, opening out into deep pools of lyrical reflection.
It is in the great Adagio that one notices most the benefits of having antiphonally placed first and second violins, with their different lines clearly delineated. The LSO brass are refulgent in the tuttis, and in Haitink's hands the music becomes redolent of Wagner's Parsifal, where 'Time becomes Space'. As the music progresses, it is as if Haitink brings the weight of the whole Symphony to bear down on the final shattering climax, and the repose of the final bars is an uneasy one, as if acknowledging the work's unfinished status.
The string tone is magnificent throughout, splendidly weighty where needed yet also capable of great delicacy, while the LSO horns and Wagner tubas can seldom have sounded so glorious. This is a worthy successor to the same team's widely-acclaimed account of Bruckner's Fourth Symphony, and at a most attractive price it is a must for Brucknerians everywhere.
1Symphony no.9 - I.Feierlich, misterioso
2Symphony no.9 - II.Scherzo - Bewegt, lebhaft
3Symphony no.9 - III.Adagio - Langsam, feierlich
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