Bruckner/Bach: Symphony No. 9;Fuga ricercata à 6 (orch. Webern)

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COMPOSERS: Bruckner/Bach
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Symphony No. 9;Fuga ricercata à 6 (orch. Webern)
PERFORMER: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra/ Riccardo Chailly
CATALOGUE NO: 455 506-2
Good though it is to have Webern’s 1935 arrangement of the six-part ricercare from Bach’s Musical Offering (and superbly played here), it would have been, despite an inappropriate key relationship, an interesting move to put Bruckner’s Te Deum after his Ninth Symphony. Taking a leaf from Beethoven’s book, this was suggested in 1896 to the dying composer by the conductor Hans Richter, who foresaw that the symphony would not be finished. It could have been had not others raised doubts about the Eighth. The mental anguish contained in the Ninth, which has few moments of repose, is at the core of Chailly’s reading and is intensely performed by those most experienced of Brucknerians, the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Their playing of the Scherzo has Mozartian delicacy. The Adagio is agonised from the outset in its meandering search for a clear key centre, and its central climactic dissonance a searing moment for the full orchestra. Whether that elusive finale would have provided the ultimate peace this symphony seeks remains one of the greatest mysteries of music. Christopher Fifield

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