Author Topic: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?  (Read 11387 times)

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Haffner

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2009, 05:21:14 AM »
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.




This is very interesting, thanks for the information!

Offline MishaK

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2009, 08:14:09 AM »
He was evidently not satisfied with, since he suggested the Te Deum as a substitute finale in perfoermance. [...] The only thing we know about Bruckner's final draft is that he was not satisfied with it.

That is not quite right. It is not that he was not satisfied with it. The problem is that he needed a couple more months to finish it. There are a number of passages that he simply hadn't composed yet or hadn't orchestrated yet. The reason he suggested the Te Deum as a finale (an inadequate substitute at best) was simply that what he had of the finale at the time he made the comment was very much incomplete.

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.

At this point there is a lot of overlap between the few most recent completions because more original material has been unearthed. The large chunks that Bruckner had already fully orchestrated are the same.

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.

I'm not sure I agree with that either. If you had said that the eintre 9th symphony is quite different than Bruckner's other symphonies, I would somewhat agree. But with the caveat that the versions of the other symphonies that we are familiar with are massively revised versions. If you listen to some of the original versions, you'll see that the 9th is a part of that same langiuage, albeit quite more advanced. The main themes in the finale exhibit typical Brucknerian rhthms and the development of ideas is very much in line with what he usually does. What is very unusual is the beginning of the finale. But then again, how else would you do it? Given where the Adagio leaves off, these gasping, groping, tentative sighs that open the finale are just about the only logical next step. Where we really have little clue as to what Bruckner wanted was the coda actually which was supposed to be this mega fugue of all the prior themes of the symphony plus some key themes of the 5th, 7th and 8th.

Again, a large portion of the various completions is original material, fully orchestrated. What Harnoncourt has the VPO play in his lecture are all the complete surviving fragments that were known at the time of that recording. That is quite a substantial bit. As he explains in the lecture, there are a few developments where we don't know how he wanted to modulate from the key of one segment over to the key of the next and then the coda is a big unknown. The main segments are otherwise quite done. The problems of the earlier completions was on the one hand a lack of some of these fragments that were subsequently unearthed and secondly overzealous editing by the person doing the completing, who often "cleaned up" harmonic dissonances and beefing up the orchestration etc., which is why the version Talmi recorded sounds like some Hollywood kitsch and not Brcukner.

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #22 on: February 24, 2009, 09:17:53 AM »
Leaving aside the questions raised in this thread, there's another reason why I'm glad Bruckner never finished the finale - the finales to his symphonies are always (with the single exception of the 5th) the weakest movement.
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Sean

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #23 on: February 24, 2009, 06:55:25 PM »
The Samale, Phillips and Mazzuca version was revised in 2007 with further work from Cohrs: in the first version the extraordinary passion and anger at the end appears more abruptly, and perhaps more effectively, but in the revision it's more integrated and you can hear the clashing lines more clearly coming together beforehand- this is as good as it's going to get.

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #24 on: February 24, 2009, 07:33:08 PM »
Conductor Marco Armiliato was conducting Adriana Lecouvreur last weekend at the Met. In an interesting interview he explained why Verdi is the greatest opera composer he can think of (and I agree with him ;D). In a single chord Verdi can change the whole atmosphere of a scene, and therefore alter its psychological and emotional direction. Not a bad observation, considering the effusively note-spinning, largely ineffective work he was conducting - but I digress.

In total contrast with Verdi's, Bruckner's way with transitions was an elaborate, arduous, sometimes tentative and uncertain one. While I agree that large sections of the finale stem directly from Bruckner's hand and mind, only the Master could possibly make sense of them as parts of a whole. Bruckner's art of transitions is intellectually inscrutable and spiritually inspired. That mixture of grandiose 'solar' symphonic vistas and lurking, hesitant, 'lunar' transitional material remains to this day one of classical music's most impenetrable secrets.

Whatever insights and levels of expertise scholars' bring to the problem of Bruckners ninth's Finale, his connecting tissues will not yield their secrets easily.

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #25 on: February 24, 2009, 07:42:25 PM »
Leaving aside the questions raised in this thread, there's another reason why I'm glad Bruckner never finished the finale - the finales to his symphonies are always (with the single exception of the 5th) the weakest movement.

Good observation - finales are difficult movements and composers come to wildly different solutions. But I'm not sure I'd agree with your assessment. As is the case with Beethoven's own final movements, the finales of Bruckner's symphonies generally aim to wrap up the whole work - but not overpower it (as Mahler would do in his many of his symphonies). IMO, Bruckner's 1, 2, 3, 5 (as you rightly mention) and 8 are up to the task. In the case of 6 its kernel remains the soft, moist core of the slow movement, whereas 7 attempts to mimick Beethoven's own 7th in terms of structural balance (but fails to, even if it's a valiant attempt). Bruckner was acutely aware of that 'Finale problem' with regard to the 9th.

Edited for typos -it's been a long day...
« Last Edit: February 24, 2009, 08:00:52 PM by Lilas Pastia »

Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #26 on: February 24, 2009, 07:52:18 PM »
Leaving aside the questions raised in this thread, there's another reason why I'm glad Bruckner never finished the finale - the finales to his symphonies are always (with the single exception of the 5th) the weakest movement.

I would agree with Lilas that certainly the finale of 8 is as masterly as that of 5. In honesty, I've never heard the sketches for the finale of 9, but whether Bruckner ran out of time or was struggling with the movement, there's one other reason why the surviving three movements can't be considered complete - and that is that Bruckner never ended a symphony in a remote key from the home tonic. (Mahler and Nielsen did so, but not Bruckner). An opening movement and scherzo in D minor, followed by an Adagio in E major, would most likely have been succeeded by a finale starting in D minor and resolving in D major. I'd like to hear that Harnoncourt, but I'd never support a version of 9 that ended with a reconstructed finale. (I can't listen to any completed Mahler 10's for the same reason, and I'm uncomfortable with the surviving version of the Mozart Requiem.)
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Sean

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #27 on: February 24, 2009, 08:04:14 PM »
Don't forget the short orchestral piece Bruckner dialogue by Einem where he muses on some of the fragments.

Lilas Pastia

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #28 on: February 24, 2009, 08:20:53 PM »
Never heard of that. Any reference or reorded material ??

Sean

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #29 on: February 24, 2009, 08:40:28 PM »
Never heard of that. Any reference or reorded material ??

The piece alternates between quoting a few moments of the sketches and rhapsodizing on them rather touchingly: it's not an attempt to complete anything.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #30 on: February 25, 2009, 02:41:55 AM »
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.


I agree with this - I think that it works magnificently as a three movement work, with the adagio being Bruckner's 'farewell to life'. When Bruckner realised that he would not live to complete the work I gather that he suggested that his Te Deum be played in lieu of the finale. Maybe this is the best solution for those who are dissatisfied with the three movement format.  On the other hand I think that Anthony Payne's completion of Elgar's Third Symphony works well - although this is not the work that Elgar would have written had he lived on.
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jlaurson

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #31 on: February 25, 2009, 03:40:14 AM »
Never heard of that. Any reference or reorded material ??

FYI:


G. von Einem: Bruckner Dialogue, Op. 39

(Also includes: Schubert's Unfinished Symphony & Haydn Sy.103
Lovro von Matacic  conducts the Vienna SO.
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Offline Cato

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #32 on: February 25, 2009, 05:03:15 AM »
The Finale to Bruckner's Ninth can be found as the opening movement of Mahler's Tenth!    :o
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Offline (poco) Sforzando

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #33 on: February 25, 2009, 05:15:58 AM »

I agree with this - I think that it works magnificently as a three movement work, with the adagio being Bruckner's 'farewell to life'. When Bruckner realised that he would not live to complete the work I gather that he suggested that his Te Deum be played in lieu of the finale. Maybe this is the best solution for those who are dissatisfied with the three movement format. 

You really think so? I think it's a ghastly idea, totally out of keeping with the mood and structure of the three completed movements.
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Offline Herman

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #34 on: February 25, 2009, 05:47:47 AM »
Leaving aside the questions raised in this thread, there's another reason why I'm glad Bruckner never finished the finale - the finales to his symphonies are always (with the single exception of the 5th) the weakest movement.

In the case of 6 its kernel remains the soft, moist core of the slow movement,

IMO the finale of nr 6 is the best judged finale of Bruckner’s symphonies. The finale of nr 8 is definitely (for me) to heavy after a lot of heavy stuff.

jlaurson

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #35 on: February 25, 2009, 06:01:09 AM »
The Finale to Bruckner's Ninth can be found as the opening movement of Mahler's Tenth!    :o

That makes for a good quip, but the two pieces couldn't be further apart. If anything, the finale of Mahler's Ninth might fit the Bruckner Ninth... it's Mahler at his closest to quiescence and tranquility... without wrung-out question-marks littering the way. The 10th, however, is the most wrought-up work Mahler ever wrote.

Offline Superhorn

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #36 on: February 25, 2009, 08:31:11 AM »
  I could not disagree more with Spitvalve's blanket statement about all the Bruckner finales except the 5th being the "weakest" parts of the symphonies. If this seems so, it could be the fault of some performances.
  Admittedly,the finales can be problematical,but the notion of them being"weak" may be the result of them departing so much from what is considered academically correct form in a symphony. And they also contain some of Bruckner's most fascinating and inspired music.
  And I still maintain that now I have heard the reconstructions, the music is so extraordinary that I now miss it when I hear only the first three movements.

     ::)     ::)      ::)     ::)

nut-job

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #37 on: February 25, 2009, 09:11:13 AM »
You really think so? I think it's a ghastly idea, totally out of keeping with the mood and structure of the three completed movements.

I'm not sure Bruckner meant that the Te Deum would be a substitute finale, but that it could be used to cap off the program.

Offline Cato

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #38 on: February 25, 2009, 09:39:16 AM »
Cato wrote:


"The Finale to Bruckner's Ninth can be found as the opening movement of Mahler's Tenth!"

That makes for a good quip, but the two pieces couldn't be further apart. If anything, the finale of Mahler's Ninth might fit the Bruckner Ninth... it's Mahler at his closest to quiescence and tranquility... without wrung-out question-marks littering the way. The 10th, however, is the most wrought-up work Mahler ever wrote.

(My emphasis)

The Mahler Ninth finale actually occurred to me simultaneously with the Mahler 10th: and I chose the latter for the quip (yes, I am not serious here) because it is a little more harmonically and motivically adventurous than the former, although there is a case to be made for it!  The Bruckner Ninth's radicality seems just a little more in line with the Tenth's opening movement, which at least matches, if not surpasses, the drama of the Adagio in the Bruckner.

Imagine the two back-to-back on a concert program!  Pass out the Prozac with the cough drops!   0:)
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Offline Tapio Dimitriyevich Shostakovich

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Re: Why Don't More Conductors Do the Completed Bruckner Ninth ?
« Reply #39 on: February 25, 2009, 10:14:27 AM »
IMO the finale of nr 6 is the best judged finale of Bruckner’s symphonies. The finale of nr 8 is definitely (for me) to heavy after a lot of heavy stuff.
As an Atheist I can say, the finale of B8 is nothing more than the proof of Gods existence. :D
Listened to the Harnoncourt / B9 mvmt 4 a bit. The lecture seems interesting. Least I can say is, the music sounds very Brucknerish. The last Notes of it, well, they seem to introduce something gorgeous. We don't know what. :(
« Last Edit: February 25, 2009, 10:16:48 AM by Wurstwasser »