BRUCKNER SYMPHONY NO. 9
"Triumph of discipline: the Cleveland Orchestra dazzles under Franz Welser-Möst"
(Die Presse, Vienna)
Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 9 can be seen as a farewell to life. Even as Bruckner began working on it in 1887, his health had begun to fail. He expressed the hope that "God will grant me enough time to complete it," and worked on it assiduously over the next years. But by late 1894 he had completed only the first three movements. When he died on 11 October 1896, he left six different versions of the finale, all of them incomplete. The work was given its first performance at Vienna's Musikverein seven years after the composer's death. To make it "easier" for the public to grasp, the conductor of the premiere substantially altered the music, thus distorting the composer's intentions. The first performance of the original version took place in Munich on 2 April 1932.
Despite its incompleteness, the work is monumental and evokes the grandeur of a majestic cathedral. From its hushed beginning to the massive blocks of sound in the first movement; from the savage hammering of the fortissimo chords in the Scherzo to the lyrical ideas of the Trio in the second movement; and from the sweeping opening statement of the violins in the Adagio movement to the broad coda at the end – the entire work breathes an intense spirituality coupled with a powerful sense of yearning.
The details of this architectural colossus are worked out with astonishing transparency by Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra. General Music Director of the Zurich Opera (since 2005) and of the Vienna State Opera (from 2010), Welser-Möst has been the Music Director of the fabled Cleveland Orchestra – one of the best ensembles not only of the U.S. but also of the entire world – since the 2002/2003 season. Under Welser-Möst, the orchestra has undertaken a number of international tours that have further magnified its reputation.
The Cleveland Orchestra's powerfully contoured and sharply profiled interpretation was recorded live in late October 2007 at the magnificent "Golden Hall" of Vienna's fabled Musikverein where, incidentally, Bruckner's Ninth was given its premiere. The concert was unanimously acclaimed by the press, which hailed the "tremendous impact" (Die Presse, Austria's leading daily) of Welser-Möst's calm and intense conducting and the orchestra's inimitable intonation and timing. With this recording, viewers can now see and hear for themselves that the "frenetic applause" (Die Presse) was deserved by each and every musician.