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CD Review

Anton Bruckner

Symphony #9 in D minor (Unfinished; ed. Nowak)

Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Georg Tintner
Naxos 8.554268 DDD 60:02
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"The mystery and horror of death permeates these three movements of the Ninth Symphony. As in the Requiem… of Mozart's unfinished… the key of D minor dominates this first movement." So wrote Georg Tintner in the notes to this release. Here we are given the mystery. The analogy with Mozart's Requiem is apt.

There is a bit of irony in the fact that I received this disc for review not long after Georg's death. He shunned the title "Maestro" and though I feel he is worthy of it, I will not use it in respect for him. I cannot think of a better way of saying good-bye to someone of his stature than to listen to this recording. I never met Georg, but I had an extensive e-chat with him last year. Over the months we corresponded, I got to know him as a person and not just an e-pal. I felt his genuine humanity, his warmth, and realized that here was a man of principle. I spent the evening listening to this recording and thinking about Georg, Bruckner, Life and Death.

This is one of the great symphonies. This is one of the finest recordings. It is obvious that the recording was a matter of love and not just recording. Georg pulls out every emotion within those black marks on white paper, in a league with Bruno Walter and Furtwängler. On the other hand, I am not sure if comparisons are apt here. What I am listening to is a personal statement by someone who loved this music and was able to instill this love into the orchestra. The notes, by Georg, are excellent maps to the music. The recording is warm and full. The woodwinds are a delight. This is a requiem and most of you will respond as I did; in awe, in what is as close to a religious experience as I ever have.

I wish I had had the chance to sit down and talk with Georg. He was a man of principle, who controlled his life right to the end. He was no coward, and chose a meaningful life to mere existence. I do wish he had lived to record the masses and Te Deum. I am happy for what he has left us. It is a legacy. I will always treasure his written comments on the notes of my copy of the 2nd Symphony.

If I have not provided a detailed analysis of this recording, so it goes. Georg's Bruckner cycle is one of the finest ever and I am glad I got to know him as well as his music making. Our chat can be read here.

Copyright © 1999, Robert Stumpf II