The Dresden Staatskapelle has a living Bruckner tradition, stretching back a century and more, which is lovingly curated by its new music director, Christian Thielemann, who is himself a powerful advocate for the composer’s symphonies as the pinnacle of the Austro-German tradition; and in particular for the Wagnerian resonances of the Seventh, whose Adagio was shaped by news of Wagner’s death in Venice. Hugo Wolf was also deeply affected by that news; his songs, like Bruckner’s symphonies, can be seen as oblique reflections on the influence of Wagner, especially when sung, as they are here by Renée Fleming, with the utmost delicacy and intimacy.
…Because Janowski and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande have had great successes with this and the last two Bruckner symphonies, listeners in search of great performances should give them a try, and audiophiles should regard them as required listening.
For this 2017 CSO-Resound release, Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra present Anton Bruckner's unfinished Symphony No. 9 in D minor in a monumental performance that impresses with its marmoreal weight, poignant lyricism, and brutal volatility. Not widely known for his few Bruckner recordings, Muti nonetheless delivers this symphony with the passion and sensitivity of an experienced Brucknerian, and possibly because he hasn't recorded it before, this live rendition of the Ninth seems like an attempt to make up for lost time. Muti's intensity and the orchestra's ferocious power combine to make a memorable reading that may remind listeners of performances by such greats as Günter Wand, Eugen Jochum, and particularly Carlo Maria Giulini, whose recordings of the Ninth are recognized benchmarks. While Muti only performs the three completed movements, and eschews any attempted reconstructions of the surviving Finale sketches, the performance has a genuine feeling of wholeness, and the Adagio particularly has the grandeur and pathos that make it feel like a convincing ending, albeit one that the composer did not intend.