In today’s Orange County Register online, I review the Pacific Symphony’s performance of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony, presented with a considerable educational component. Here’s an excerpt.
The latest installment of the Pacific Symphony’s educational “Music Unwound” series attempted to engage the average listener in the music of the great Austrian symphonist Anton Bruckner. A tall order. Even musicians are split on Bruckner’s music (there are plenty of Bruckner jokes) and talking about it doesn’t seem to help the situation much.
Whenever I’m in the Bruckner conversion mood (not often), I generally like to pour an unsuspecting listener a glass of wine and slap a recording onto the stereo. If you play him, say, the Scherzo of the Ninth Symphony, performed by Carlo Maria Giulini and the Chicago Symphony, at full volume, you don’t need to say much of anything. It’s like getting hit by a bus.
It seems wrong to me to call the third movement of this symphony “the finale”, because we all know that it was not supposed to be the last one and the composer did indeed start working on the fourth but simply wasn’t able to complete it. Calling this Adagio “the last completed movement” would certainly be accurate, but not “the finale”. Just saying…