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Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is an audio-only (i.e., with no video content) Blu-ray disc playable only on Blu-ray players.
This performance is also available on standard CD.
Karl Böhm’s Decca recording of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony has no equal. This is one of those special occasions when conducting, orchestral playing, and sound all come together to produce a truly memorable recorded performance. Böhm, surprisingly, did not record much Bruckner, but given his affinity for Wagner and Richard Strauss, his mastery is hardly surprising. Böhm typically did not play Wagner and Strauss particularly slowly, so his consistently
expansive and magisterial tempos here are somewhat surprising. He, in fact, expands Bruckner’s Fourth to something near the scope and stature of the final three Bruckner symphonies without any sense of being grandiose or overinflated. His interpretation sounds totally correct.
Much of the success of this recording is directly related to the orchestral execution. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, as recorded here, sounds qualitatively similar to itself in the Solti
; I can think of no higher compliment. The brass section, critical to any Bruckner symphony, is simply overwhelming. The massive brass climax early in the fourth movement must be heard to be believed. I have never heard it sound quite like this in any other recording or concert. The sound is also similar to the Solti
, which is to say that it is uniformly excellent and serves the music well. Bruckner’s large orchestra and brass climaxes are contained within a realistically wide, deep, and airy soundstage that was characteristic of Decca’s best big orchestral recordings from Vienna in this era.
This recording is therefore a perfect candidate for reissue on a Blu-ray audio disc. The Decca legends CD version is very good, and compares favorably to the original Decca LP pressing. This Blu-ray audio disc, as is customarily the case, gives a slightly more transparent view into the large orchestral soundstage, and slightly sharpens (in a favorable way) instrumental contours that occasionally get a little lost in all of Decca’s ambient space. There are very few times that you will hear the massed brass of a great orchestra sound so powerful and realistic. To get a better idea of what I mean, compare this (or the Solti
and Strauss operas) to the Berlin Philharmonic as recorded by Deutsche Grammophon.
All of which leads to a simple conclusion: If you have the capability to play Blu-ray audio, get this magnificent recording immediately. If you care for the music of Bruckner but cannot play Blu-ray audio discs, the Decca Legends CD version is fine.
FANFARE: Arthur Lintgen
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 4 in E flat major, WAB 104 "Romantic" by Anton Bruckner
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Written: 1874; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 11/19/1973
Venue: Sofiensaal, Vienna, Austria
Length: 68 Minutes 10 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
One of the great recordings of all time March 12, 2014
By J. Todd (HURLSTONE PARK, New South Wales) See All My Reviews
"The combination of the Vienna Phil's idiomatic sound, bohm's ideal interpretation, and decca's most impressive natural sound make this one of the greatest recordings ever set down, and certainly the greatest of this work by a long way"