Manfred Honeck / Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra

Bruckner: Symphony No. 9

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In 2019, Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra released their second Bruckner recording as a hybrid SACD on Reference Recordings, a powerful interpretation of the unfinished Symphony No. 9 in D minor that shows these musicians' remarkable affinity for the composer. In choosing the unfinished, three-movement version of the work, thereby avoiding any controversy over the various completions of Bruckner's intended finale, Honeck adheres to the long-established 1951 edition by Leopold Nowak, so there are no textual surprises. What is somewhat unexpected for a performance of the Ninth is Honeck's careful analysis of the material Bruckner incorporated, such as the "Miserere" from the "Gloria" of his Mass in D minor, the "Annunciation of Death" motive from the Eighth Symphony, and references to the Latin text of the Agnus Dei which influenced the design of the Adagio, among other internal evidence that sheds light on Bruckner's religious motivation in composing this symphony. Many conductors recognize the significance of Bruckner's dedication of the work to God, yet Honeck has identified the particular instances in the symphony that, like the structure of the Fifth Symphony, clearly reveal Bruckner's faith, and that the Ninth is far from being absolute music without programmatic content. This no doubt adds power to the music and clarifies its somewhat mystifying content. The wide-open sound of this audiophile recording goes far in conveying the expressive depth and sweep of the performance, capturing the orchestra in a spacious acoustic that adds true grandeur to Bruckner's most personal paean to God.

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