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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Conducting an ensemble named the "Bruckner Orchestra Linz" at a venue called the "Brucknerhaus" in live concert in the 2003 Bruckner Festival, Dennis Russell Davies pretty much had to deliver a high quality performance of this favorite Bruckner symphony. He exceeded this expectation by a wide margin, turning in a distinguished performance that demands comparison with the classic 1973 Karl Böhm/Vienna Philharmonic recording. A very special performance, the VPO deployed its unique brass sonority as the support pillars of a massive sonic edifice, just right for Bruckner's final version of the Fourth (Nowak edition). The 1874 original version recorded in this Arte Nova release (also edited by Nowak) has a quite
different general mood from its later incarnation (Bruckner had jettisoned the original scherzo, heard here, drastically recomposed the finale, and made notable changes in the first and second movements). The effect is that the rhythms in the original version are equally powerful but remain in fluid motion, the energy unleashed. (This is true even for the "treading" rhythm of the latter part of the second movement.)
The leaner, rhythmically incisive performance by Davies and the BOL is as well suited to Bruckner's first version as Böhm's is to the final one. The playing is solid; the string sound, while not ravishing, is firm yet flexible. The woodwinds are full of character, while the brass exhibit a very effective mixture of Austrian solidity and American brilliance.
The recording also is first rate. The audience is virtually silent; I didn't know it was there until I later read the recording notes. The natural concert-hall dynamics are impressive: from soft string tremolandos to flurries of brass, the range is wide but not exaggerated. Set your volume to achieve an audible opening and the loudest sound is not yet so loud that you have to turn it down to protect your ears and your lease. I saved one of the best things about this disc for last: It is on a super-budget label, yet is equal in every respect to the value of full-price discs. Serious Brucknerians must have the original version, and this is the one to get.
--Joseph Stevenson, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 4 in E flat major, WAB 104 "Romantic" by Anton Bruckner
Dennis Russell Davies
Bruckner Orchester Linz
Written: 1874; Vienna, Austria
Notes: Version: 1874
Composition written: Vienna, Austria (1874 - 1886).
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
First Version- Excellent Performance November 29, 2014
By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews
"Dennis Russell Davies leads the excellent Bruckner Orchestra of Linz, Austria, in a very fine performance of an early version of Anton Bruckner's Romantic Symphony (#4). The sonic qualities of this Arte Nova disk are super- wide dynamic range, substantial depth and power from the Linz orchestra, tight and focused direction from the conductor, and a clear, warm feel to the symphony's message. It is easy to detect the vast difference between this 'first' version and the later revisions which made Bruckner's 4th Symphony perhaps his most popular. For example, the famous horn calls in the 3rd movement are for all intents and purposes lacking in this recording. In addition, the serious Bruckner fan will note that many of the powerful and extended thematic explorations which mark the later versions are heard in nascent, elementary form here. Nevertheless, this is a very good recording and should be of interest to any classical music lover who enjoys the majestic sound world of Anton Bruckner. Recommended."