John Gibbons / Århus Symphony Orchestra

Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 - Premiere recording of finale completed by Nors S. Josephson

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Anton Bruckner died before he could complete the finale of his Symphony No. 9 in D minor, so for over a century, the work has been performed as a three-movement torso, for lack of an agreed-upon ending. Still, there have been several attempts to finish the symphony, based on the substantial amount of material that Bruckner left, whether fully orchestrated or in short score, and one of them is the 1992 reconstruction by Nors S. Josephson, which receives its world premiere recording here. John Gibbons and the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra have given it a go, and it's a clear and focused performance, so the symphony has an idiomatic and dynamic conclusion that holds together rather well. Is this the last word in Bruckner completions? Probably not, considering that there are other finales vying for that honor, not least the periodically updated version by Nicola Samale, Giuseppe Mazzuca, Benjamin-Gunnar Cohrs, and John Alan Phillips, which is based on much of the same material but conceived with different ideas of Bruckner's harmonies, contrapuntal textures, and orchestration. Ultimately, time will decide if any version will become the preferred finale, though based on the merits, Josephson's completion is certainly viable and well worth hearing for the freshly worked material and the attempt at stylistic accuracy.

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