Colin Clarke

Bruckner: Symphony No 9 in D minor

8:00, 22nd November 2017

Chicago Symphony Orchestra/Riccardo Muti
CSO Resound CSOR 901 1701

There is a sense of space to Riccardo Muti’s Bruckner. This is not a composer Muti is intuitively linked with (he recorded the Fourth and Sixth previously); his performance here is considered and well-recorded. The Chicago orchestra is at the top of its game, string phrasing not only unanimous but exquisitely expressed.

However, while Muti’s terracing of dynamics works well in the first movement, the overall effect remains curiously uninvolving. The quicksilver opening of the Scherzo, a sort of transmogrified Mendelssohn, offers virtuoso playing, but does not grip; the finale, while beautifully, impeccably played, misses the supreme depths this music holds.

While Giulini/VPO (DG) remains the modern nonpareil in this symphony (and Furtwängler, in 1944, tells a harrowing tale), Muti offers sonic excellence, and certainly this is a more involving effort than that the Concertgebouw/Gatti offered at this year’s Proms. But in the final analysis this is uncompetitive.

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