Herbert Blomstedt / Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra

Bruckner: Symphonie No. 9

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Herbert Blomstedt's 2011 recording of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 9 in D minor on MDR is his second recording of the work with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, and this amazing super audio release may be more desirable than the earlier 1999 recording he made for Decca. Performing the unfinished three-movement version of the symphony in Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs' 2000 edition, Blomstedt shows a conservative approach in bypassing the restored finale by Samale, Mazzuca, Cohrs, and Phillips that is increasingly being accepted by conductors, notably Simon Rattle and Gerd Schaller. Yet this performance has enough passion, clarity, depth, and incisiveness to make that option moot, and the three movements work as well in this presentation as they ever did in any revered recording in the canon. The decisive difference is the intensely focused playing and utterly ravishing orchestral sound that this SACD provides, giving contemporary audiophile recordings a run for their money. Granted, in light of the fact that Bruckner would have wanted his finale completed and performed, it seems only fair that future recordings should definitely include it; hopefully not too many conductors will follow Blomstedt on this point. But if they do, may they turn in as splendid a performance as Blomstedt and the Gewandhaus do here, for this is a gorgeous reading that will survive because of its commitment, musicianship, and high-quality reproduction.

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