Bruckner's early string quartet is more a composition exercise than a full-fledged work of art, but the quintet is something else entirely: a chamber music masterpiece to rank with the great symphonies in expressive intensity and sheer musical grandeur. Indeed, there are a few places where Bruckner seems to demand an almost orchestral volume of tone, and the slow movement has been successful performed (and recorded) by a full string orchestra. The Intermezzo is none other than an alternative scherzo for the quintet, composed because the original players at the premier found Bruckner's first thoughts too difficult. Well, the members of L'Archibudelli certainly don't find the music too difficult–you won't find better performances anywhere.
For this 2017 CSO-Resound release, Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra present Anton Bruckner's unfinished Symphony No. 9 in D minor in a monumental performance that impresses with its marmoreal weight, poignant lyricism, and brutal volatility. Not widely known for his few Bruckner recordings, Muti nonetheless delivers this symphony with the passion and sensitivity of an experienced Brucknerian, and possibly because he hasn't recorded it before, this live rendition of the Ninth seems like an attempt to make up for lost time. Muti's intensity and the orchestra's ferocious power combine to make a memorable reading that may remind listeners of performances by such greats as Günter Wand, Eugen Jochum, and particularly Carlo Maria Giulini, whose recordings of the Ninth are recognized benchmarks. While Muti only performs the three completed movements, and eschews any attempted reconstructions of the surviving Finale sketches, the performance has a genuine feeling of wholeness, and the Adagio particularly has the grandeur and pathos that make it feel like a convincing ending, albeit one that the composer did not intend.