Notes and Editorial Reviews
This DVD provides a rare experience for Günter Wand fans, many of whom probably did not have the opportunity to see him conduct live. The video dimension not only adds flesh to the artist on the podium, but also illustrates just how deeply Wand had absorbed Bruckner's musical personality in his consummate realization of the Ninth Symphony. As it turns out, this was to be Wand's final performance, and also his finest.
The conductor's audio recordings (also made live) generally revealed an increasing intensity as they progressed, but here a new element of dark anger has entered into Wand's interpretation, as if he were joining Bruckner in his struggle to come to terms with his own mortality. This is readily apparent
in the exceptionally alert and committed orchestral playing, but also in Wand himself. Even with the physical limitations imposed on him by advanced age, Wand radiates white-hot intensity--especially with his eyes, which stare hypnotically at the brass throughout the tremendous first-movement coda. The scherzo exhibits a rhythmic energy and ferocity many younger conductors fail to generate, while the Adagio, where Wand's strings sing with an aching sweetness, is heart-rending in its yearning for life, even after the great climax, one of the most gut-wrenching ever recorded. The NDR Symphony plays magnificently, with each section giving its all, the brass in particular.
Wand's late-in-life pairing of Schubert's Unfinished with Bruckner's Ninth serves to point out the aesthetic similarities between the works (musical as well: Bruckner's Adagio is very Schubertian at its center). Again, Wand goes for broke and his orchestra plays full out, exuding confident virtuosity. However, the performance also has gentler contours in accordance with Schubert's less rhetorical style. After a terse and dramatic first movement, the Andante floats serenely, always recovering its graceful peace after the famously explosive interruptions.
The well-planned video production intelligently mixes wide shots with close-ups of the conductor and individual orchestra sections, the latter usually emphasizing key instruments at critical points in both works. Video and sound quality are both excellent. For Wand fans and Brucknerphiles alike, this DVD is indispensable. [4/26/2006]
--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 9 in D minor, WAB 109 by Anton Bruckner
North German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1891-1896; Vienna, Austria
Be the first to review this title