Notes and Editorial Reviews
Symphony No. 9 in d
Carlo Maria Giulini, cond; Stuttgart RSO
HÄNNSLER 93.186 (62:21)
This is the third commercial recording of Anton Bruckner’s unfinished Ninth Symphony featuring the late, great Italian conductor, Carlo Maria Giulini (1914–2005). He recorded it with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for EMI in 1976, with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1988, and the present performance with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony Orchestra on September 20, 1996. The Vienna and Stuttgart recordings are of public
performances. There is also an Arthaus Musik DVD of both rehearsal and complete performance of the Bruckner Ninth recorded September 19, 1996, presumably nearly identical to the performance on this Hännsler disc.
Giulini’s Bruckner is slower than average, even for the later 20th century. The Vienna Philharmonic recording is slowest of his three Ninths at 68:30, as well as the most widely, if not universally, praised. The Chicago Symphony recording is the most precise, reflecting perhaps Chicago’s striving for perfect ensemble, strongly encouraged by Georg Solti in his long tenure as music director. In overall time (63: 09) the performance in Chicago is closer to Stuttgart’s than Vienna’s, but the Stuttgart conception is quite different. Timing tells some of the story, the three movements in Chicago taking 25:10, 11: 09, and 26:50, while in Stuttgart they take 25:54, 10:43, and 25:41. More important is the shaping of these movements. The leisurely first movement in Stuttgart expresses plenty of mystery, but little urgency; the climaxes occur as larger waves in an undulating sea of sound, which moves without much sense of direction. How this affects the listener depends very much on preconceived notions. Those who like variety should be pleased to hear such an unusual performance, especially when played with the skill and dedication of the Stuttgart orchestra. Others might find it simply perverse. In any case, it sets up the Scherzo and Adagio, where the pulse quickens and a real sense of urgency gradually develops, leading to one of the finest climaxes I have ever heard.
By 1996, the Southwest German Radio had excellent recording equipment, and the orchestra, always familiar with Bruckner but especially so during the tenure of Sergiu Celibidache, easily meets the high standards of the competition. Fans of Bruckner and admirers of Giulini should hear this performance.
FANFARE: Robert McColley
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 9 in D minor, WAB 109 by Anton Bruckner
Carlo Maria Giulini
Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1891-1896; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 09/1996
Venue: Live Liederhalle, Stuttgart, Germany
Length: 62 Minutes 19 Secs.
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