Author Topic: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?  (Read 7693 times)

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Offline Superhorn

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Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« on: February 22, 2009, 12:42:28 PM »
   Back in the 90s, I got an LP of the Chandos Bruckner 9th with William Caragan's version of the completed finale, and later heard the Inbal/Frankfurt recording of the finale on Teldec by two Italian musicologists, Samale and Mazucca.  The Chandos has Yoav Talmi and the Oslo Philharmonic.
 
   I am now convinced that that either of these versions should be more widely performed and recorded, and am no longer satisfied with the familiar three movement torso of this sublime work. There are also recordings by the late Kurt Eichhorn, Johannes Wildner and Harnoncourt which I have not heard yet. The notion that sketches of the finale were to few and fragmentary for a completion has been disproved, and the unfamiliar music brings the symphony to a thrilling conclusion. 

   I recently heard a fine live performance of the Bruckner 9th by Eschenbach and the New York Philharmonic on WQXR , but was disappointed that Eschenvbach did not do the finale. Just as there is no longer any reason to do Berg's Lulu in the unfinished version, I feel the Bruckner 9th finale is indispensible. What do others think ?
« Last Edit: February 22, 2009, 04:56:22 PM by Que »

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckbner Ninth ?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2009, 12:54:11 PM »
I've heard the "completed" finale a couple times. To put it bluntly - I think it's crap  :P

So I'm GLAD that conductors don't play this movement. What could possibly follow that sublime, end-of-the-world coda to the Adagio? I think Bruckner did finish the 9th - he just wasn't willing to admit it.
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Haffner

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckbner Ninth ?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2009, 01:09:26 PM »
What could possibly follow that sublime, end-of-the-world coda to the Adagio? I think Bruckner did finish the 9th - he just wasn't willing to admit it.



I agree. It's the way the Adagio ends as well. Just doesn't seem to be more to say. Just me.


Bulldog

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckbner Ninth ?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2009, 01:34:52 PM »


I agree. It's the way the Adagio ends as well. Just doesn't seem to be more to say. Just me.



And there's also the dubious practice of completing somebody else's music.

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckbner Ninth ?
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2009, 01:37:34 PM »
I agree. It's the way the Adagio ends as well. Just doesn't seem to be more to say. Just me.

That Adagio certainly appeals to me (a cynic, and an unrepentant heathen  ;D ): listening to that bleak, painful movement, it appears Bruckner finally loses his faith (like I did). But isn't that doing the man a disservice? We know for a fact he had no intention of ending the symphony on a downer. He may have had doubts at the end of his life, but his faith remained intact, and basically optimistic. It's like Mahler's case: if all we knew about the man and his music at the end of his life was based on Das Lied and the 9th symphony, we'd have a very distorted picture. In fact, Mahler was not ready to give up the ghost; to put it crudely, his 10th symphony, contradicting the 9th, says: "Hell no, I ain't giving up yet! I'm going to win back Alma, and prosper."

I have Harnoncourt's Ninth but haven't listened to it yet (a project for tomorrow perhaps). Whether or not there's enough "Bruckner" extant to fashion a satisfying conclusion is something I won't know until I've heard it. It's worrisome that Bruckner didn't even begin to work on a coda. (I have no doubt about the merits of the performing versions of Mahler 10.)

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Haffner

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckbner Ninth ?
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2009, 01:49:36 PM »
It's interesting to me how many people heard the Adagio of Bruckner's 9th as a loss of faith. To me it sounds more like beautiful resignation to the will-slash-inevitability of (insert one's preferred noun here: Fate, Creator, That-Which-Can't-Be-Changed, etc.). He knows there isn't much time, and that his will won't be done, so he welcomes with open arms whatever "Fill-In-The-Noun" deals him.

But again, that's just me.

Offline MDL

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckbner Ninth ?
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2009, 01:50:09 PM »
How detailed and extensive are the sketches for the 4th movement? I'm with Sgt Rock on this: the downbeat ending is intensely moving and satisfying, and reconstructions of the last movement may be "crap" and not acceptable for regular performance, but it isn't indecent to want to have a vague idea of how Bruckner intended to finish this astounding work-in-progress.

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckbner Ninth ?
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2009, 02:09:06 PM »
It's interesting to me how many people heard the Adagio of Bruckner's 9th as a loss of faith. To me it sounds more like beautiful resignation to the will-slash-inevitability of (insert one's preferred noun here: Fate, Creator, That-Which-Can't-Be-Changed, etc.). He knows there isn't much time, and that his will won't be done, so he welcomes with open arms whatever "Fill-In-The-Noun" deals him.

But again, that's just me.


We're probably both wrong, Andy, interpreting Bruckner according to our own needs and philosophies. If Karl reads our comments he'll surely castigate us for readng such subjective meaning into Bruckner's objective music  ;D

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
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Haffner

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckbner Ninth ?
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2009, 02:19:53 PM »

We're probably both wrong, Andy, interpreting Bruckner according to our own needs and philosophies. If Karl reads our comments he'll surely castigate us for readng such subjective meaning into Bruckner's objective music  ;D

Sarge


He'd probably be right, and we probably are both wrong. Point well made, and taken.

eyeresist

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2009, 05:22:43 PM »
I've only heard Inbal's performance of the finale, which I found very disappointing. However, I blame Inbal, not the reconstructors. Even if it wasn't "true" Bruckner, a talented conductor should be able to make it sound like him. Possibly a lack of dynamic markings in the score is part of the problem.

There are a couple of new recordings of the latest reconstruction, conducted by Naito and Bosch.

Very interesting summary of the scholarly facts involved here.
 

Offline MishaK

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2009, 07:43:52 PM »
Guys,

If you're really interested in B9, I would highly recommend you listen to Harnoncourt's lecture and performance of surviving original excerpts. It will make it a little bit clearer what original parts actually survive, what the master plan for the movement was and what are common errors in modern completions. The Carragan version Inbal performs is crap for just about all the reasons Harnoncourt mentions (like mistakenly trying to harmonically resolve Bruckner's wonderful dissonances). There have since been more recent revisions to Carragan's completion that take into account more recent scholarship as well as more recently recovered original fragments that were stolen from Bruckner's deathbed. The Wildner performance is actually quite decent and at the Naxos price certainly worth a listen if you're curious. There is an even more recent revision of the Samale-Phillips-Cohrs-Mazzuca completion that is on this disc that is available at jpc:



This is the Sinfonieorchester Aachen with Marcus Bosch. My mom actually played as an extra in that performance. I haven't gotten my grubby hands on this CD yet, but it should be good from what I hear.

Simone Young has been doing a terrific job with her Bruckner cycle of only original versions with her Hamburg orchestra. She hasn't gotten around to the 9th yet, but I hope she considers recording a completion of the last movement.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2009, 07:59:12 PM by O Mensch »

Offline Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2009, 09:04:15 PM »
If you're really interested in B9, I would highly recommend you listen to Harnoncourt's lecture and performance of surviving original excerpts. It will make it a little bit clearer what original parts actually survive, what the master plan for the movement was and what are common errors in modern completions.

Ohhhh, didn't know about the lecture. Ordered. Task for next weekend :)

eyeresist

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2009, 09:20:17 PM »
Reading a bit further, it looks like Daniel Harding's recording with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra uses the most recent edition of the reconstruction. This review (of the performance before the recording) sounds very promising. I think there are torre nts available, but if you want the CD you will have to mail-order (!) from Antec Classics (cat. no. AM2520).

Offline MishaK

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2009, 12:17:43 PM »
I have heard the Harding performance and found it on a technical level severely wanting. I don't think it gives a good picture of the final movement. The first three are all but unlistenable.

nut-job

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #14 on: February 23, 2009, 12:30:39 PM »
The lecture and performance of fragments sounds very interesting.  But I would not be interested in hearing the reconstructed finale in concert.  You can argue that Bruckner did not intend the 9th to end with the Adagio, but we know that and can appreciate that Bruckner would have gone farther.  From the various sources, it seems the finale exists in a set of sketches and a draft score, of which half the pages were stolen by souvenir hunters and lost.  It's clear we don't have Bruckner's final intentions, especially for the finale coda.  I'm not interested in a bunch of music theorist's guesses as to what Bruckner would have or did write.

Bulldog

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #15 on: February 23, 2009, 02:21:52 PM »
The lecture and performance of fragments sounds very interesting.  But I would not be interested in hearing the reconstructed finale in concert.  You can argue that Bruckner did not intend the 9th to end with the Adagio, but we know that and can appreciate that Bruckner would have gone farther.  From the various sources, it seems the finale exists in a set of sketches and a draft score, of which half the pages were stolen by souvenir hunters and lost.  It's clear we don't have Bruckner's final intentions, especially for the finale coda.  I'm not interested in a bunch of music theorist's guesses as to what Bruckner would have or did write.


Seconded. 8)

eyeresist

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #16 on: February 23, 2009, 04:16:07 PM »
But I would not be interested in hearing the reconstructed finale in concert. ... I'm not interested in a bunch of music theorist's guesses as to what Bruckner would have or did write.
I think being dead-set against it would count as "interested" ;)
 

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #17 on: February 23, 2009, 05:21:37 PM »
There are certainly pros and cons on the matter. Among the obvious pros is the indisputable fact that Bruckner worked tirelessly on that finale. And chief among the cons is the indisputable fact that Bruckner worked tirelessly on that finale. What is also indisputable is that he failed to arrive at any kind of working program for it. When I hear one of the completions I hear two things: first, each attempt at a completion arrives at a different solution, therefore no-one can claim to present the composer's thoughts with any certainty, let alone any legitimacy. Second, by the time he was working on the movement, Bruckner's language seemed to have evolved to the point where it couldn't follow the others without jarring results. Harmonically it doesn't sound tortured and ambiguous, orchestrally it is much sparer than the first two, and rythmically it isn't like any other Bruckner finale. Until the coda arrives, it sounds more like the first movement of an unwritten 10th than the last movement of the 9th.

BTW I don't like the various completed Mahler 10ths. It sounds like Mahler after a severe diet. Lots of bones, little flesh and no muscle. Gone are the almost overfleshed, luxuriant of textures, the charismatic themes and hedonistic musical programs of 1-8. Gone also is the decadent opulence of the cadaverous 9th. I hear  the outlines of a symphony, not the real thing.

Offline Cato

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2009, 05:52:11 PM »
There have been claims that the Finale is complete, but lost, that his students and others took pages of the Finale as souvenirs.  The infamous Schalk Brothers are usually mentioned in this context.   A variation on this story is that the Finale was not quite complete, but that many pages still disappeared as souvenirs.

The more one thinks about this claim, the harder it is to accept it: would his students really do this, allowing his last masterpiece to be truncated?

If the claim is that they wanted to prevent any completions, to prevent a faux 60 % Bruckner-Finale, why let anything behind?

Could they have known how powerful the Adagio is, in comparison to the seemingly tamer Finale, and decided to sabotage it?  Also unlikely: not impossible, however.

If Bruckner was indeed working on the Finale on the day of his death, it seems unlikely that he would have earlier told them to take pages away as souvenirs in the event of his death. 

And yet the question remains: where are the pages musicologists says are missing?  If not souvenir hunters, then what?  Simply misplaced in the archives throughout the decades?

 
"Now who taught ye t' be playin' patty fingers in the holy water?"

- Barry Fitzgerald to John Wayne in  The Quiet Man.

nut-job

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2009, 06:14:20 PM »
There have been claims that the Finale is complete, but lost, that his students and others took pages of the Finale as souvenirs.  The infamous Schalk Brothers are usually mentioned in this context.   A variation on this story is that the Finale was not quite complete, but that many pages still disappeared as souvenirs.

At this point they are not claims.  Various sources I have come across agree that Bruckner left an orchestrated draft with page numbers in his own hand.  He was evidently not satisfied with, since he suggested the Te Deum as a substitute finale in perfoermance.  Roughly half of the pages have turned up in various peoples private papers, so the souvenir hunter story is supported by evidence.   The only thing we know about Bruckner's final draft is that he was not satisfied with it.

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