Playlist: new endings

Gramophone Tue 3rd October 2017

To tie-in with our cover story about Mozart's Requiem, James Jolly explores some more great unfinished works

When Mahler died in May 1911, he’d completed a draft of a new symphony, his Tenth. What he left was a first movement, Adagio, that was more or less complete (and orchestrated), the remainder of the score is a mixture of passages that were orchestrated and others that were in short score, but the entire work is traceable bar by bar from start to finish. Many have attempted a ‘completion’ but by far the most popular and most recorded is Deryck Cooke’s; Thomas Dausgaard’s recent and Gramophone Award-shortlisted recording from Seattle demands to be heard. Simon Rattle, a great champion of the Mahler/Cooke Tenth, has recorded a completion of Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony (which he left as a three movement work with an unfinished finale). Nicola Samale and Giuseppe Mazzuca worked on a completion which went through a number of revisions and their version, unveiled in 2011, was the one Rattle recorded. Why Schubert stopped work on his Eighth Symphony no one knows and though completions of the Unfinished are rarely tackled, it’s worth listening to Brian Newbould’s proposed solution for turning the two-movement torso (but what a torso!) into a four-movement work. Neville Marriner gave us a fine performance. For a truly ravishing sound world grafted onto another, Luciano Berio’s ending for Puccini’s incomplete Turandot is a (not uncontroversial) treat – the styles are very different, Berio luring Puccini’s music off the tonal straight-and-narrow, but it’s a glorious way to end the opera. Elgar’s Third Symphony, as presented in a performing edition by Anthony Payne, caught the public imagination at its first performance in 1998 and has been recorded four times, one of the most successful being Sir Colin Davis’s recording with that über-authentic Elgar ensemble, the LSO. And returning to the opera, what a debt we owe to Friedrich Cerha for his completion of Alban Berg’s Lulu, now the default edition used in pretty well every production. It’s not just a masterly piece of composition but it gives us a completely new perspective on a great work of drama.

Tracks:

Mahler/Cooke Symphony No 10
Seattle SO / Dausgaard Seattle SO

Bruckner/Samale et al Symphony No 9
BPO / Rattle Warner Classics

Schubert/Newbould Symphony No 8
ASMF / Marriner Philips

Puccini/Berio Turandot – finale
Giuseppe Verdi SO / Chailly Decca

Elgar/Payne Symphony No 3
LSO / C Davis LSO Live

Berg/Cerha Lulu

Boulez DG


Listen to the playlist on Qobuz

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