Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Does Bruckner's Symphony #3 (the "Wagner") anticipate the "Number Nine"?

Sergui Celibidache conducts the Symphony #3 in D Minor by Anton Bruckner, with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony.

Yes, I love the picture from the French Alps.

The Symphony has gotten my attention because I have spent a lot of time looking at various “completions” of the Finale of the 9th in the same key.

The work is called the “Wagner”, because of chromatic passages that resemble Wagner, especially toward the end.

The most important motive in the Symphony is a descending interval motive based on the opening of the Beethoven Ninth, D – A – D octave lower.  Both the first movement and finale end with that sequence of notes (although some versions of the finale omit that and simply end on the preceding fortissimo chord).

Bruckner tends to build his final climaxes on opening themes rather than “second themes”, which tend to generate “big tunes” with some composers (like Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Grieg). In this Symphony, the rather perfunctory, declamatory nature of the opening theme, and its return at the end, adds to its power.

The final climax has an extended chord on the subdominant, rather than an abrupt pivot (as in the 8th).  Then on the final pedal point there are rising “Wagnerian” motives in the brass that anticipate the Seventh and also the Samale completion of the Ninth.  The descending theme also figures into the finale of the Ninth at a few critical moments (morphing into the “octave theme”).
Celibidache tends to favor slow tempos, like Klemperer.

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