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Old 19-07-17, 07:10 AM
Todd A Todd A is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 608

The Ninth. Lim's rendition comes in at around fifty-six minutes, so again in the realm of conventional timings. The opening movement is ever so slightly quick and tense, and though not as fierce as some other versions, there's more bite than in some prior symphonies in this cycle. The playing also sounds more ethereal while also sounding a bit detached, which works well. The Scherzo has plenty of drive and power and weight, and a sense of intensity approaching fearsomeness, in the outer sections, and the middle section is uncommonly light and dance-like, and the less than fully clear recording (by SOTA standards) combines with the playing to create a nice blurred effect. The Adagio sounds both beautiful and just a bit intense. Lim can choose to play with great beauty, as he showed in previous symphonies, but that clearly is not what he wanted here. And once again, while the symphony is not as dominated by brass as other readings, Lim uses them well, and he creates some nice effects when he brings them more into the mix. Lim brings the orchestra to a massive, nearly fearsome - heck, almost apocalyptic a la Furtwangler - climax at just after eighteen minutes and then allows for a lengthy pause to let the effect settle in. The coda is lovely and just a bit tense to start, then it becomes gentler and more serene until fading away. Lim himself seems to be even more engaged in this symphony than some preceding ones based on more frequent vocalizing, and this engagement shows in one of the best performances of the cycle. Given the editions Lim uses for some symphonies, and the comparatively brass-light sound, and somewhat smaller apparent scale of the playing, I can't say that this is one if the great Bruckner cycles. But, with that written, the excellent playing, the string-heavy sound, the sometimes detached approach, and the sometimes uncommon and almost unreal aural beauty on offer results in a unique cycle that more than ended up justifying the purchase for me. I will definitely be revisiting the whole thing, probably starting with the Fifth.

Jochum's sixty minute version starts off more or less as expected: dark, mysterious, more brass heavy, large scaled. While slightly swifter than Lim's in timing, the pacing nonetheless sounds more relaxed, the tension less pronounced in the early going, the music deeper. And the low string pizzicati are pretty sweet. As the movement progresses, Jochum generates apocalyptic music to rival Furtwangler, with the immense benefit of good sound. The Scherzo, only a bit quicker than Lim, generates more intensity in the outer sections, and the trio very much meets it "schnell" designation. The Adagio is simply marvelous. Notably slower than Lim's, it sounds quicker and basically pulls off a Celi by making time irrelevant. While lovely at times, this is no tender and gentle reading for the most part; it is simultaneously transcendent and despondent, and while Lim was no slouch when it comes to transitions, Jochum's sound perfect and seamless. And he leads a blistering climax that I've not heard bettered. The coda is gentler, lovelier, and radiant. This is one of the great Bruckner Ninths. Overall, Jochum's cycle is better than Lim's and would make for a good introduction to the works, though I think Wand's is still probably better for that type of role. Jochum's cycle is more uneven than Lim's but that just means that it ranges from excellent to truly great. I'm perfectly glad to have both.
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