ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
ANTON BRUCKNER - SYMPHONY NO. 9


ANTON BRUCKNER - SYMPHONY NO. 9 - YANNICK NÉZET-SÉGUIN (Conductor) - ORCHESTRE MÉTROPOLITAIN DU GRAND MONTRÉAL - Atma SACD22514

On first hearing this new recording released just a month ago in August 2008, I immediately dismissed it as being too slow within the first few minutes, turned it off and put it away. After all, it is about 1 minute and 7 seconds longer than the famous Bernstein/Vienna recording which everyone lamented as being too slow. Great, but too slow at certain moments they would all say.

Then I eventually returned to this recording, reminding myself of what I have always believed a Bruckner symphony to be. Bruckner symphonies are conceived like great architecture. They are built like massive gothic cathedrals, vast, epic in context and hymnic in their devotion to God, with every note standing on solid and sacred ground. They are, by nature, long and expansive, and reveal their magic by slow progress, long pedal notes, broad gestures and strong moments of affirmation. The "Adagio" of the 9th being a perfect example of just that.

This performance brings out all of the above definitions of what a Bruckner symphony should sound like, and even adds a few of its own adjectives; beautiful, inspired, monumental, far-reaching, etc...Nézet-Séguin holds everything very well suspended from start to finish, slow but never sagging or drifting away from its goal. Both the divine and demonic, the heavenly and hellish facets of this great symphonic work are well on display here, and all with a glorious sound that would make a massive gothic cathedral reverberate to its core.

Jean-Yves Duperron