Seen and Heard Concert Review
Edinburgh Festival 2006 (3) : Bruckner: Symphony No. 9, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jiři Bĕlohlávek (conductor) Usher Hall, 01.09.2006.(JPr)
In addition to the
personality traits mentioned already, it seems that Bruckner was also obsessed
with death and was deeply religious. He kept a diary of his daily devotions,
prayed before every performance, and halted his lessons whenever church bells
rang. Some have suggested that the extreme length of his symphonies was inspired
by the composer’s wish to lull his listeners into a mindset conducive to prayer.
As his powers failed during the last years of his life Bruckner dedicated his
final symphony to God, but could not understand how he was refused the
strength and inspiration to finish it.
The brutal D flat of the
Scherzo is relieved by a ghostly trio. The Adagio allows for
conventional religious consolation through its A flat (the key of Parsifal)
second subject and the movement then moves relentlessly forwards alluding along
the way to music from the composer’s D minor Mass and Eighth and Seventh
symphonies. I am sure I am not alone in feeling a premonition of the composer’s
own death here. We read of the three sips of tea that Bruckner took before
drawing his last breath and I am sure those are in the final bars.