Day 138: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (Masur)

This morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s unfinished Symphony No. 9 in D Minor WAB 109 (dedicated “to the beloved God”) is Kurt Masur (1927-2015), another person about whom I knew nothing and of whom I had never heard until I started this project.

Maestro Masur was born in Germany and died in December, 2015, at the age of 88 in Greenwich, Connecticut, U.S.

I first heard the Maestro interpret Bruckner’s symphonies on Day 10, Symphony No. 1.

Then again on Day 26, Symphony No. 2.

Then again on Day 42, Symphony No. 3.

Then again on Day 58, Symphony No. 4.

Then again on Day 74, Symphony No. 5.

Then again on Day 90, Symphony No. 6.

Then again on Day 106, Symphony No. 7.

Then again, most recently, on Day 122, Symphony No. 8.

Here are the facts about today’s recording:

brucknermasurboxBruckner’s Symphony No. 9 in D Minor WAB 109 , composed 1884-1890
Kurt Masur conducts
Masur used the “Original Version (1887),” according to the CD sleeve. But edited by whom? Which edition?
Gewandhausorchester Leipzig plays
The symphony clocks in at a brisk 54:01
This was recorded in Leipzig, Germany, on 19-23 June 1978
Masur was 51 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 72 when he died before finishing the Ninth
This recording was released on the RCA Red Seal 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 (Masur) and this particular orchestra (Gewandhausorchester Leipzig) is as follows:

I. Feierlich, misterioso (D minor)…………………………………………………………………21:50
II. Scherzo. Bewegt, lebhaft (D minor); Trio. Schnell (F-sharp major)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………10:27
II. Adagio. Langsam, feierlich (E major)……………………………………………………….21:44
IV. Finale. (D minor, incomplete)……………………………………………………………………0:00

Total running time: 54:01

And now for my subjective assessment:

My Rating:
Recording quality: 4
Overall musicianship: 4
CD liner notes: 0 (totally unacceptable)
How does this make me feel: 5

This was remarkably good. Much better than Maazel’s recording yesterday.

(I wonder if part of the reason why I’ve been enjoying Maestro Masur’s interpretations so much is because they follow Maazel’s, which are abysmal?)

Kurt Masur has a knack for not pussyfooting around. No extraneous notes. No time wasted. Just filet of Bruckner.

This was a fine recording. Clear. Little to no tape hiss. Powerful when it needed to be, gentle and touching when called for it.

The Adagio, for example, is a study in emotions that run the gamut. It remains one of my all-time favorite Adagios.

The Misterioso was powerful and engrossing. I was caught up in it.

And, of course, the playful, exuberant Scherzo kept me tapping my foot and humming its theme all day long.

This performance warrants an unrestrained “Huzzah!”

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