Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 in D minor

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WORKS: Symphony No. 9 in D minor
PERFORMER: Bavarian RSO/Carl Schuricht
CATALOGUE NO: C 548 001 B ADD mono
This is Bruckner for those who value him most as a musical architect – the creator of ‘cathedrals in sound’. It’s not that Schuricht’s performance is unemotional (an unemotional Bruckner Nine isn’t easy to imagine), but the underlying emphasis is on steady pacing, carefully measured proportion, on the slow, patient revelation of a gigantic plan in which everything can be felt to have its place. It couldn’t be much less like the hot-blooded, volatile Furtwängler approach. Impressive as it is, though, there’s something strangely cool – impersonal – about the end effect. If the slow movement is (in Bruckner’s own description) a ‘farewell to life’, it’s a remarkably detached one. The booklet note suggests a comparison with Günter Wand, but Wand’s latest live recording with the Berlin Philharmonic balances abstract form with a sense of intensely personal drama. I was reminded more of George Szell, and of a comment by a musician who played for him: ‘He even rehearsed the inspiration.’ Schuricht’s tempi aren’t always rigid, but rubato – as in the first movement’s gorgeous second main theme – can sound calculated. This Bruckner Nine may well leave you awestruck, but it’s unlikely to stir. The mono sound is acceptable, though not blemish-free. Stephen Johnson