Mario Venzago / Bern Symphony Orchestra

Bruckner 9

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For this 2013 CPO release, Mario Venzago and the Bern Symphony Orchestra present Anton Bruckner's unfinished Symphony No. 9 in the original 1894 version, which consists of the three completed movements. Because Venzago aims for historical accuracy and gives the music an authentic late 19th century sound, it makes sense that he would choose the standard version that was performed shortly after Bruckner's death and kept in the repertoire for a century with few editorial changes. However, in light of the various modern reconstructions of Bruckner's substantial sketches for the finale, including the increasingly performed completion by Nicola Samale, Giuseppe Mazzuca, Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs, and John Alan Phillips, Venzago certainly had the option of performing the work as a four-movement symphony, thus honoring Bruckner's intentions but skirting the issue of authenticity. While the three-movement version may eventually be supplanted, Venzago gives it a convincing reading, with propulsive tempos and sharp articulation, and the orchestra plays with exceptional crispness and clarity, so the period-style performance is justified in the many fine details and the transparency of the parts. Listeners who favor a traditional Ninth with a massive orchestra may find this performance a bit fussy and lacking in grandeur, but it at least has the virtues of light textures and forward motion, both of which help immensely in this brooding symphony.

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