Day 132: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (Gielen)

My “office” this morning.

Thanks to discussions today in the Anton Bruckner group on Facebook, I’ve changed my mind again about what I’m calling “Phase Two” of my Bruckner project.

A Bruckner group member named Michael mentioned the late conductor Sergiu Celibdache and pointed out that even though Celibdache’s EMI box set was out of print (and, subsequently, very expensive), Celibdache’s Warner Classics box set (Warner bought EMI) was still in print.

Since I was relaxing my rules regarding complete cycles of nine symphonies (Furtwangler only has six, as does Klemperer), I decided I would be remiss if I didn’t include Celibidache, too.

So now, “Phase Two” of my project will consist of:

Daniel Barenboim (Staatskapelle Berlin Orchestra)
Daniel Barenboim (Berlin Philharmonic)
Sergiu Celibidache (Symphonies 4-9)
Wilhelm Furtwangler (Symphonies 4-9)
Eliahu Inbal
Marek Jankowski
Otto Klemperer (Symphonies 4-9)
Simone Young (the only female conductor of Bruckner I’ve discovered)

Total number of additional CD box sets: 8
Total number of performances: 63

Ergo, 63 More Days With Bruckner And Me

…which will bring the total days in a row I’ll have listened to Bruckner’s symphonies to 207 – seven months straight of Bruckner’s nine symphonies.

It’ll also bring the total number of Bruckner CD box sets I’ll own to 24, which is about 23 more than my wife would like me to own.

This morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s unfinished Symphony No. 9 in D Minor WAB 109 (dedicated “to the beloved God”) is German-born Michael Gielen (1927-).

The orchestra is SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Frieburg.

I first encountered Maestro Gielen on Day 4 of my 144-day project, Symphony No. 1.

Then again on Day 20, Symphony No. 2.

Then again on Day 36 Symphony No. 3.

Then again on Day 52, Symphony No. 4.

Then again on Day 68, Symphony No. 5.

Then again on Day 84, Symphony No. 6.

Then again on Day 100, Symphony No. 7.

Then again, most recently, on Day 116, Symphony No. 8.

From what I recall, Mr. Gielen has been hot and cold for me.

But I’ll reserve the subjective stuff about this recording for later.

First, the objective aspects:

brucknergielenboxBruckner’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor WAB 109, composed 1887-1896
Michael Gielen conducts
Gielen chose the “Original Version 1894” (according to the CD sleeve)
SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Frieburg plays
The symphony clocks in at 67:02
This was recorded in Germany on December 20, 2013
Gielen was 86 when he conducted it (the oldest conductor to whom I’ve listened so far)
Bruckner was 72 when he died before finishing the Ninth
This recording was released on the SWR Music label

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. He would have this time, too. But he died before completing movement four. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 9 in D Minor), from this particular conductor (Gielen) and this particular orchestra (SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Frieburg) is as follows:

I. Feierlich, misterioso (D minor)…………………………………………………………………27:05
II. Scherzo. Bewegt, lebhaft (D minor); Trio. Schnell (F-sharp major)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………12:04
II. Adagio. Langsam, feierlich (E major)……………………………………………………….27:50
IV. Finale. (D minor, incomplete)……………………………………………………………………0:00

Total running time: 67:02

Now, the subjective aspects.

My Rating:
Recording quality: 5
Overall musicianship: 5
CD liner notes: 4 (short essays on the Michael Gielen Edition, Bruckner’s symphonies, and the orchestra, translated into English and German)
How does this make me feel: 5

First of all, I have no idea what “Original Version 1894” means. I can’t find to what that references.

About the performance…

Love it!

The recording is well balanced, bright (without being tinny), clear, and powerful. The horns do not stomp on the strings. The strings do not overshadow the horns.

The Scherzo is extremely powerful.

The Adagio is poignant and gorgeous. It seemed a little slower than the previous Adagios. But that only added to its beauty. Especially at the end with those horns and strings. Simply amazing.

I have to give this an unequivocal “Huzzah!”

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