Music review: BBC SSO – Bruckner 9

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Undated BBC handout photo of  Thomas Dausgaard who the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra has named as its new chief conductor as it launches its 2015/16 season, during which it will celebrate its 80th birthday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 11, 2015. Dausgaard will take over from Donald Runnicles as the orchestra's chief conductor in September 2016. The Dane has appeared with orchestras around the world and is currently chief conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Seattle Symphony and honorary conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared as a guest conductor with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (SSO), performing a wide range of repertoire from Dvorak and Tchaikovsky to Ives, Lindberg and Schnelzer. See PA story. Photo credit should read: Ulla-Carin Ekblom/BBC/PA Wire

NOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge on

For use in UK, Ireland or Benelux countries only Undated BBC handout photo of Thomas Dausgaard who the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra has named as its new chief conductor as it launches its 2015/16 season, during which it will celebrate its 80th birthday. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 11, 2015. Dausgaard will take over from Donald Runnicles as the orchestra's chief conductor in September 2016. The Dane has appeared with orchestras around the world and is currently chief conductor of the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, principal guest conductor of the Seattle Symphony and honorary conductor of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. He has also appeared as a guest conductor with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (SSO), performing a wide range of repertoire from Dvorak and Tchaikovsky to Ives, Lindberg and Schnelzer. See PA story. Photo credit should read: Ulla-Carin Ekblom/BBC/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: Not for use more than 21 days after issue. You may use this picture without charge on

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MUSIC

BBC SSO: Bruckner 9

City Halls, Glasgow

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In his first official concert as chief conductor of the BBC SSO, Thomas Dausgaard chose an intriguing way to mark his territory: the Scottish premiere of a completion of Anton Bruckner’s unfinished Ninth Symphony, made several years ago by a collection of Brucknerite composers, conductors and scholars. Unlike Deryck Cooke’s Mahler 10, Sussmayer’s Mozart Requiem, or even Anthony Payne’s Elgar 3, this is a realisation carried out by committee. It shows.

There was inevitably a sense of anticipation as Dausgaard’s valiant reading approached the end of the third movement – that descent into silence we are traditionally used to as Bruckner’s final symphonic word. But here, the extended journey exploded into a fiery reawakening of the soul, ultimately a blinding sunburst ignited by fearsome unresolved dissonances and impulsive thematic back references. These threw up interesting new perspectives on the familiar movements, though they also highlighted palpable weaknesses in the new finale. There’s an awkwardness, an uncertainty, lurking in moments of the music which seemed at times to unnerve the players: a little rhythmic wobble here, a lack of absolute unanimity there.

Had he lived long enough, would the obsessive Bruckner – as he mostly did – have repeatedly revised his thoughts? You wonder if this completion project might have been better done by a single, similarly minded personality, even if that meant 
making freer judgement on the source material.

The concert opened with Helen Grime’s steely Catterline in Winter (based on paintings by Joan Eardley), and promised interesting times ahead for this new conductor-orchestra partnership.

KEN WALTON

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