Composer: Anton Bruckner
Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Carlo Maria Giulini
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Size: 314 MB
Symphony No. 9 in D minor (“Unfinished”), WAB 109 (various versions)
Composed by Anton Bruckner
Performed by Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini
01. Feierlich, Misterioso
02. Scherzo. Bewegt, Lebhaft-Trio.Schnell
03. Adagio. Langsam, Feierlich
Carlo Maria Giulini’s recording of Bruckner’s unfinished 9th Symphony with the Vienna Philharmonic has been around quite awhile and it has taken me a long time to get around to it. I acquired his recording of the same composer’s 8th symphony and was not so blown away by it as I am with this one, I think mainly because it fell, just, in the shadow of Karajan’s magnificent account with the same orchestra, the VPO again. So I didn’t buy Giulini’s 9th. My loss!
This is an extraordinary recording. Awesome is a word that is used too often in an inane pop style that diminishes its meaning when something like this comes along and truly deserves the accolade. Bruckner composed the 9th in a spirit that seems to have already consigned part of its consciousness to off-planet realms. The final movement is often moving and beautiful but never have I been left so stunned by it before. The first movement is unusually powerful under Giulini’s direction. The pounding tuba notes near the end sound like the horn of judgment summoning all of mankind to judgment day. I have never heard this performed to such stunning effect elsewhere. It is almost over the top, but then, this symphony is pretty much that way so the tuba menace is in keeping with this spectacular reading.
The final movement is on the same level of profundity. It is like hearing this great symphony brand new.
If you are a Brucknerian you probably already have this recording, and have had it for a long time. If you are exploring Bruckner for the first time or are expanding your library with a second or third or twentieth recording of this symphony, don’t miss it. It is truly special and should remain in DG’s available recording lists FOREVER.