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Thread: Bruckner's Completed Ninth

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    Default Bruckner's Completed Ninth

    The D Minor Symphony with its finale completed from sketches of Bruckner by Samale-Phillips-Cohrs-Mazzuca with their revisions of 1996: I have heard it for the first time yesterday performed by the Westphalia Symphony under Johannes Wildner.
    This is my honest opinion:
    Bruckner woud have done well to burn the pages and announce that the final symphony that he dedicated to "The Lord" would be only in three movements rather than announcing that the Te Deum to be played as the finale.
    Having said that, the work on the final sketches is short of inspiration partly from the composer and more so by the orchestrators. Barring the opening passages for the first three minutes and the magnificent coda and the closing passage starting from the recapitulation of the opening movement theme at the eighteenth to the twenty fourth minute are indeed worth the effort and dedication. But the weaving from the fourth minute to the seventeenth minute is quite insipid.
    If I were conducting this symphony, I would play the first two movements spatially followed by the final movement, Te Deum and close with the Adagio with its ethereal horn fermata conclusion. That is in essence extend his final offering to five movements incorporating the Te Deum as per his wish as the fourth movement.

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    Senior Member Art Rock's Avatar
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    It is perfect as it is as far as I am concerned.

    I have not heard the "completed version", but I did hear the completed version of my favourite symphony, Schubert's Unvollendete. Blasphemy.
    Allüberall und ewig blauen licht die Fernen! Ewig ... ewig ...

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    Senior Member Sebastien Melmoth's Avatar
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    The projected Finale for Bruckner's Ninth consists of incomplete sketches which are not 'completable' by anyone else; therefore, there's no way I could give credence to a 'completed' version.

    The Ninth is perfect as it stands (as is Schubert's b-minor Symphony).

    Bruckner merely suggested the possiblilty that the C-major (wrong key) Te Deum might serve as a Finale in concert.

    He didn't firmly endorse such a procedure.

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    I'm a bit of a sucker for 'completions'. Some people claim not to like them, yet are very happy to listen to Mozart's Requiem (of which very little was actually completed by Mozart), completed and tinkered with by various hands since 1792 and Puccini's Turandot as completed by Franco Alfano. People also seem not to object to Borodin's Prince Igor (finished by Glazunov and Rimsky-Korsakov) and various of Musorgsky's works as 'sanitised' by Rimsky. But Mahler 10 (much more 'complete' than any of the above works), Schubert Unfinished or No 10, or Elgar 3? No, I think not.

    I have to agree with Art Rock about the Newbould completetion of Schubert's Unfinished (is it No 7 or No 8 nowadays?). While I quite enjoy the Scherzo (some of which Schubert actually sketched), I find the gluring-on of one of the Rosamunde entr'actes as a finale very unsatisfactory. I would urge people to listen to the fascinating solution offered to Schubert's unifinished Tenth Symphony (or is is 9 now?)(also completed by Newbould) by Luciano Berio in his Rendering of 1989, where Berio simply allows the extant parts of the Schubert to be played 'straight' and fills-in the gaps with music that is entirely Berio, with a celestial celeste very prominent.

    As an advocate of both Mahler 10 and Elgar/Payne 3, I was surprised to realise that my acquaintance with the reconstructed finale of Bruckner 9 was sparse at best, so I have reacquainted myself with it. It doesn't help this Bruckner 9 finale's cause that there is still no 'standardised' version of it; every recording uses a different edition and the length varies between 20 and just over 30 minutes. However, despite a few longeurs, there is Bruckner music here that really deserves to be heard, with a magnificent coda that I'm glad I didn't die before hearing.

    To use the Te Deum as a finale is simply wrong and obviously a suggestion of desperation from a semi-senile Bruckner who knew he just wasn't going to finish the intended finale.

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    As far as I've read the sketches are fairly advanced and pretty detailed. There are two missing sections (probably removed by some of Bruckner's friends shortly after his death) and a lot of the wind orchestration has to be extrapolated from other parts of the movement. I've listened to the Wildner performance twice and it is a cogent and listenable movement. Does it change how one listens to the 9th? Of course. The emotional impact of the 3rd movement is diminished and for that reason may not appeal to some listeners. I think the piece will be conducted differently with the 4th movement coming: less of the languor and weight of approaching death.

    I'm still not completely sold and plan to give the whole piece a few more spins this week. I think it is more successful (a less of a stretch) than the Elgar 3rd, for example. It is definitely a more rewarding experience than the Schubert 8th completion which, if I remember correctly, had little to work with for the 3rd movement and nothing for the 4th.

    The Wildner performance of the whole symphony is darn good and at the Naxos price point should be heard by anyone interested in Bruckner. There is more of a mythical appeal to torso, but the whole 9th may be a better symphony.

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    I haven't heard the Naxos version of the completed 9th,but I have heard the Teldec one with Inbal and the Frankfurt RSO, and previously,the William Caragan version on LP with Yoav Talmi and the Oslo Philharmonic on Chandos.
    I could not disagree more about the finale; I find both versions entirely plausible and the music extraordinary. In fact, I am no longer satisfied with hearing only the first three movements and wish that more conductors would include the finale both live and recorded.
    The program of the finale seems to be Bruckner's triumphant entry into heaven,and the finale
    resolves the terror and anguish of the first movement and the pain and longing of the slow movement very effectively.It brngs the symphony to a thrilling conclusion.
    How about it, Danny Barenboim, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Riccardo Chailly,
    Zubin, Claudio Abbado, etc?
    The spurious completion of the Schubert unfinished is a entirely different matter. Schubert left only sketches for the beginning of the scherzo, and nothing at all for a finale, unlike the finale of the Bruckner 9th,which was actually much more worked out than was previously believed.

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    Hearing the Harnoncourt CD (shame he didn't just have the symphony as four movements, though the talk was extraordinary), I really want to hear the whole thing now. Turns out, Bruckner finished the whole finale as far as musical content is concerned, just didn't orchestrate all of it. It's just that someone scattered the pages to students of Bruckner who didn't care what became of their teacher's final symphony. In my mind, this is almost as great a tragedy as Sibelius' 8th symphony, if not as great.

    From what I've read, though, several of the completions are by people who indulge a bit much, as in putting in 100 bars when only 8 bars are missing, etc. So I'm kinda curious about an edition that actually follows what Bruckner wrote. Does anyone know if Wildner's recording/completion is faithful?

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    I heard the completed finale. In my opinion it stands on its own, but when added to the symphony it makes the symphony too long, cumbersome and unsustained.
    The 3 movements should be considered a complete work.

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    I've listened to the Rattle recording. I was not blown away by any means but you have to remind yourself that Bruckner finales are not great in general.

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    Since I first posted I also listened to the Rattle performance. NO.
    Allüberall und ewig blauen licht die Fernen! Ewig ... ewig ...

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    I've listened to the Rattle recording. I was not blown away by any means but you have to remind yourself that Bruckner finales are not great in general.
    ?! ???????? ?????? ????????? ???????????? ?????????????????????? ??????? ???????????? ? ?
    Last edited by joen_cph; Sep-14-2012 at 07:48.

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    I know the Wildner recording as well as the Harnoncourt one. I find them both extraordinary. It's fascinating to know that Bruckner completed the entire exposition. So given the nature of Bruckner's recapitulations, as well as the near complete piano score of the development section, the finale (as completed by Samale/Mazzuca/Phillips/Cohrs) is probably about 90% "pure" Bruckner.

    I hope Rattle's effort spark's a new trend of recordings and performancec of the Ninth with the finale. In my opinion, it would do Bruckner more justice than the pseudo-spiritual fare-well-to-life readings of the adagio.

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    Perhaps doubts are also cast over a 'complete' 9th because we have been 'conditioned' over the years into hearing it as a three-movement work? I have the Wildner discs and I myself don't think the 9th with the finale is overly long, disjointed or whatever - it does take a while to get used to but I think the four-movement work is valid if only to obtain an alternative overview. Had Bruckner died earlier without managing a thorough completion the finale of his 8th I wonder if similar reservations may have applied? Of course, if more conductors end up recording the finale of the 9th from now on the option remains to stop listening once the third movement has finished if a four-movement entity fails to satisfy.
    Last edited by elgars ghost; Sep-14-2012 at 11:46.

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    The Te Deum does not make a satisfactory conclusion to the 9th symphony at all. For example, it is in C major, and the 9th is in D minor . The only recent performance in our time to do this whoich I know of was when Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco symphony tried this several years ago .
    I don't agree at all about the Bruckner finales "not being great ". In fact, they are so fascinating because of their structural unorthodoxy . How could anyone dismiss the mighty fugal finale of the 5th as "not being great"? I haven't heard the Rattle or Wildner recordings with the complete finale, but am curious to do so.
    My first expose to a completion was many years ago on a Chandos LP (yes, they used to put some out ) with Yoav Talmi and the Oslo Philharmonic using the version by William Caragan .
    I was fascinated and thrilled by the music , and I repeat - I'm no longer satisfied with the torso version .

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    Personally, I love the reconstructed finale. When I took time to listen to it for myself as true Bruckner, I found that it excellently ties up the symphony. I don't mean to sound condescending, but did those of you who disapprove of it read the publication by the reconstruction team?

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