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I particularly liked this point:
Yes, the realization is necessarily speculative, especially with regard to the coda, yet Bruckner did a great deal more work on the finale than most people assume. Cohrs, in his notes to the most recent edition, observes that 557 of 647 bars come directly from Bruckner, and only thirteen bars were wholly invented by the editors. (The most common performing edition of Mozart's Requiem, by contrast, is significantly more speculative: nearly a quarter of the score is by Franz Xaver Süssmayr. I have never understood why some conductors happily serve up all that ersatz Mozart while rejecting out of hand the Mahler Tenth or this new Bruckner Ninth.)
Edits: 03/22/12Follow Ups:
OTOH, I remember reading in one of the older Bruckner biographies (I forget which one) that, despite the fully finished nature of so much of the fourth movement, one would have to be very presumptuous to finish Bruckner's greatest finale for him!
Nevertheless, I agree with you and Alex: once you've heard any of the Ninth Symphony fourth movement completions (imperfect as they may be!), the work no longer sounds right as performed with only the three completed movements. Heck, I love Elgar's "Third Symphony", which (as with the point you make about Süssmayer's version of the Mozart Requiem) is FAR more speculative than any completion of Bruckner's Ninth out there right now!
Bruckner intended a 4th movement of the 9th and composed most of it. To not include the last movement in a performance is like playing the first 3 movements of Beethoven's 9th only, a distortion of the composer's intentions.
BTW - I also feel that playing the Adagio only of Mahler's 10th is also a distortion of Mahler's intentions - either play one of the completions (and these are more speculative that the last movement of Bruckner's 9th) or don't play it. The movement does not stand by itself as a complete work.
I totally agree with you both. Even Mahler's 10th is far more complete than Mozart's Requiem (Mahler himself said it was completed "in the sketch"), and I've never understood the reluctance to perform a completed version of that but not the Requiem.
I guess the main reason is tradition, and the fact that Sussmayr was Mozart's assistant, not some scholar working 50 or 100 years later. But the Requiem was finished only because Mozart's widow Constanze desperately needed the money from the commission, and Sussmayr was willing to do it when others were not.
What particularly irritates me about conductors refusing to perform the Mahler 10 (at least the Cooke version), is that Cooke only filled in enough holes so that it could be performed in order to give audiences -- specifically people who lack a high skill level at reading sheet music -- the opportunity to hear what Mahler had in mind for the 10th. Depriving audiences of this opportunity for reasons such as it lacks "the contrapuntal element in Mahler's writing" strikes me as snobbish. Who exactly is being harmed by playing it?
Another irony of not playing the 4th movement to the Bruckner 9 is all of the different versions of the other symphonies that are floating around out there, including the Haas version of the 8th, which despite including several measures composed by Haas, it's the preferred version of the 8th for many prominent conductors.
I agree on both points. If you compare Mahler's orchestration of the 9th symphony to Cooke's version of the 10th, the 10th does sound somewhat spartan and lean IMO, but had Cooke filled it out more, I'm sure there would be outrage and protests that it was tasteless and overdone. With Bruckner's 9th, like you I see no reason to accept whatever Haas or earlier Bruckner editors did to the other symphonies and yet reject any completed version of the 9th.
As I said, IMO it's the historical circumstances of the completion of Mozart's Requiem that makes it acceptable for many to view that as a finished work and not Mahler's 10th or Bruckner's 9th. To me, that's completely arbitrary.
Both of you...I hadn't thought about it quite from these angles, just that the 9th made sense to me in a more fundamental way when I first heard it in four movements. Knowing that Bruckner intended it to be four movements, and composed most of that last movement, to me means that anyone who plays it without the last movement is not in fact doing justice to the intentions of the composer.
Another point on Mahler...he normally made extensive changes to his symphonies after performing them. He never heard Das Lied or the 9th...so if we don't play the 10th, because it is just a realization....wouldn't logic demand that the 9th and Das Lied also not be played since they don't reflect the composer's final thoughts?
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