Saturday, April 03, 2010

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9 in D Minor (Ed. by Benjamin G. Cohrs) – Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra/Paavo Järvi – RCA Red Seal

Patrick P.L. Lam
Audiophile Audation (www.audaud.com)
March 29, 2010


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Following Bruckner’s Seventh, this latest Ninth from Järvi and the FRSO is a musical document of inspiration.

Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) lived a life of dichotomy between the composer and the man. The impact and complexity of his creative art evolved as the direct consequence of his predecessors - Beethoven, Schubert and Wagner. During the span of 72 years, his compositions reflected a voice beyond his time. This was a voice that encompassed the grand gestures of the last stages of Austro-German Romanticism. Bruckner’s Ninth, presented here as the sequel to an earlier Seventh, is the latest installment released by Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi and the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra (FRSO) on RCA. Captured live in a series of three performances during November 27th-29th in 2008 and extracted into hi-definition SACD quality, this performance enforces a symbiotic relationship between imageries and the power of music. [Interesting - since neither RCA nor Sony are issuing any U.S.-originated recordings on SACD any more...Ed.] Gates to heaven and the omnipotence of the Divine were prevailing ideas that lingered through the life of Bruckner, and this reached the pinnacle with the Ninth.

These associations came naturally as a consequence of his background as an organist of Baroque St. Florian’s Priory and his devotion to Catholicism. In this edition by Bruckner scholar Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs, the spiritual and prophetic dimensions of the Ninth were carried into vast expanses.

Structured in three long movements, Bruckner started the work in 1887, but did not complete it until the end of 1894. What strikes one from the recording sound here was the luscious horns that nicely contrasted and cushioned the softness of the woodwinds. Transparency in the string passages was another strong asset in this performance, starting with the “Feierlich; misteriosi” first movement, then breaking off into a frantic display of rhythmic synchrony in the “Scherzo” second movement. The “Adagio” third movement was given an ephemeral reading by the musicians – it was a blending of beautiful horn passage work flanked by a bed of lyrical strings that emerged with radiant energy. This perhaps corresponds with the view Järvi had in mind about this movement in particular, which he explained “… as if Bruckner is trying to look upwards into the future. There is a strange sense of [unknown], that I find straight from the beginning: there is something cosmic about the opening of this symphony. There’s a prophecy in there, certainly…” This prophecy was drawn to a climax in this very last movement of the Ninth, a kind of portal that provoked a direct communion with a higher divine power. Järvi and the FRSO paid homage to a composer and his final tribute to the symphonic form, and this recording concentrated these forces in unison.

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