The latest instalment of François-Xavier Roth and the Gürzenich-Orchester’s Bruckner cycle is perhaps a surprise, a Ninth Symphony – the one Bruckner left unfinished at his death – that is all over in fifty-three minutes, comparable, more or less, in terms of timing at least, with, say, Abendroth or Knappertsbusch, and on Roth’s own terms, direct even to the point of sometimes being thought glib or inconsequential, despite typically excellent playing, the strings leaning to ‘authentic’ timbres. That said, Roth’s approach reminds that Bruckner was very much alive if ill while writing this work and ever-more advanced in his musical thinking, and that when the end of the third-movement Adagio is reached there can be no doubt that a large-scale Finale was intended to follow (for which Bruckner left sketches of course and there are several completions). From Roth the first movement is fiery and emotionally restless (alternatively he might be thought brusque and impatient), the Scherzo very fast and violently accented, although the Trio could be fleeter, more stalking, and the Adagio flows (a trumpet figure in early fortissimos is barely audible), the “farewell to life” theme part of the whole, a stepping stone to the movement Bruckner didn’t live to complete. Reservations, yes, but a fascinating document nonetheless, one to return to, which in some respects redefines this piece. Myrios Classics MYR034 is very well recorded.

Leipzig Radio SO; 1951.