Composer: Anton Bruckner
Orchestra: Wiener Philharmoniker
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Original Release Date: 2001
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Size: 266 MB
01. Feierlich, Misterioso
02. Scherzo. Bewegt, lebhaft – Trio. Schnell
03. Adagio. Langsam, feierlich
A Pity that Abbado never completed his Bruckner cycle.
It seems to me that most of reviewers judges more on Abbado’s insolence performing Bruckner (an italian-mahlerian conducting
Bruckner?) than on the quality of his performances per se. I agree that he is not the GREAT brucknerian of all times, but his Bruckner’s readings are all very compelling and have always something interesting to say, much more than other “so called”
brucknerian conductors. This 9th is another good example of those statements.
After knowing memorable Bruckner 9th performances through Karajan, Furtwängler, Jochum, Giulini, Wand and a few others, i
could mention Claudio Abbado’s as a really new and good finding. Not at the same level of the former conductors, for sure, i
find it as a really sincere, well judged and fairly played recording. It was recorded live with the Wiener Philharmoniker in
1996. Firstly, i can appreciate the sonority in depth and nobility of tone that Vienna’s doyenne orchestra seems perennially
able to summon when they respect their conductor. Maestro Abbado again is as compelling as he was in the Fourth Symphony,
recorded in 1991, five years earlier than this, for the same label. This 9th sounds more natural, at least for my ears, than
any other symphony in the cycle to date.
Abbado does an excellent job in the first two movements, taking a conservative tempo, but caring skilfully on detail and
balance (a pity that the sound engineering doesn’t help in this recording) and invoking a lyricism in the composer’s first
and third movement theme-groups that relax the mature Bruckner’s solemn muse. To call this “Italianate” would be a cliche,
yet there is usually Mediterranean warmth in Abbado’s music-making, as he usually does in his Mahler, without slighting the
power or seriousness of Bruckner’s utterance. Those features could put on risk the levels of drama and could make the music sounds “dull”, a problem i find the most in the finale, where orchestra and conductor sound a bit cautious, but these views
of the music are also valid. As i could state in Tchaikovsky, i don’t agree with an hysterical Bruckner conception.
The Wiener Philharmoniker plays heavenly good under Abbado, the crystal-clear sound of the strings are a matter of my
admiration, however Abbado never let the orchestra’s inherent tonal weight to sound blowsy, pompous, or artificially enhanced,
a problem that i find in other “more dramatic” and “brucknerian” recordings. In summary, Abbado’s rendition is a really good
and fair one, could not place it among the best, but it’s one of the most sincere recordings i’ve ever listened and it could
please any bruckner collection, for sure.
PS (JAN 2014) Very sad about passing of Maestro Abbado, i have listened this special ninth again and i like
it even more. I gave it four stars before, now i think it deserves the 5 stars… Rest in peace, Maestro