Day 137: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (Maazel)

This morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s unfinished Symphony No. 9 in D Minor WAB 109 (dedicated “to the beloved God”) is American Lorin Maazel (1930-2014).

I first encountered Maestro Maazel on Day 9 in my 144-day project. On that day, he interpreted Bruckner’s First.

Then again on Day 25, Symphony No. 2.

Then again on Day 41, Symphony No. 3.

Then again on Day 57, Symphony No. 4.

Then again on Day 73, Symphony No. 5.

Then again on Day 89, Symphony No. 6.

Then again on Day 105, Symphony No. 7.

Then again, most recently, on Day 121, Symphony 8.

I have found Lorin Maazel to be…

Well, this isn’t the time for opinions.

First, the facts about what I’m hearing today:

brucknermaazelboxBruckner’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor WAB 109, “Edition L. Nowak” (according to the CD sleeve), composed 1884-1890.
Lorin Maazel conducts
Maazel used the “Edition L. Nowak,” according to the CD sleeve
Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks plays
The symphony clocks in at an ass-numbing 70:40 (Yikes!)
This was recorded in Munich, Germany, on March 20, 1999
Maazel was 69 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 72 when he died before finishing the Ninth
This recording was released on the BR Klassic 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 (Karajan) and this particular orchestra (Berliner Philharmoniker) is as follows:

I. Feierlich, misterioso (D minor)…………………………………………………………………31:17
II. Scherzo. Bewegt, lebhaft (D minor); Trio. Schnell (F-sharp major)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………10:59
II. Adagio. Langsam, feierlich (E major)……………………………………………………….28:23
IV. Finale. (D minor, incomplete)……………………………………………………………………0:00

Total running time: 70:40

Now, the subjective aspects…

Are you kidding me?!?!?

Seventy minutes and forty seconds?!?!?

For three movements?!?!?

As I’ve come to expect from Lorin Maazel, he must have been paid by the minute because nearly every single one of his interpretations are the longest in my 144-day project.

This one is the longest to date for Symphony No. 9:

Barenboim – 60:36
Chailly – 62:47
Wand – 58:04
Gielen – 67:02
Haitink – 59:24
Jochum (White Box) – 60:49
Jochum (Green Box) – 60:44
Karajan – 61:37
Maazel – 70:40

Maazel’s interpretation is 10 minutes longer than most of the previous interpretations by other conductors.

I just can’t get past that. Seriously. Why did Maazel think it necessary to pad his performances with more time?

My Rating:
Recording quality: 4
Overall musicianship: 3
CD liner notes: 3 (short – but interesting – essays on Bruckner, Maazel, and the orchestra, translated into German and English; however, virtually nothing about the recordings – like when? where? what year? some of that information is on the CD sleeves)
How does this make me feel: 2

This was another meandering, bloated, ponderous interpretation from Maestro Maazel.

It didn’t move me.

It just amazed me in its length.

I wasn’t energized by the Scherzo.

I wasn’t awed by the Adagio.

I was just glad when I’d heard it through two or three times and declared, “Enough is enough.”

Ugh.

As if that weren’t bad enough, there’s that damned applause at the end – only this time with a 20-second gap between when the music stops and the first tentative clapping starts.

That may not sound like a lot of time. But listen to it. It’s an eternity.

What was the audience doing? Waiting until every last note decayed? Were they asleep? Were they bored? Were they awed?

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