Notes and Editorial Reviews
This younger and more energetic Günter Wand from 1990 contrasts markedly (at least visually) with the frail conductor who in 2000 proved he could still lead an incandescent Bruckner Ninth and Schubert Eighth (type Q9948 in Search Reviews). The 78-year-old Wand displays plenty of vitality and vigor, qualities that come through in the powerful performances on this disc.
Beethoven's Leonore Overture No. 3 is muscular and athletic, with Wand whipping up a swirling torrent at the close. Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 also proceeds at a relatively fleet pace (save the Adagio), with much free-flowing, well-judged rubato. It's in the slow movement of the Fourth where Wand seems most involved, gesturing passionately as the
music's emotion shows on his face. The NDR Symphony plays brilliantly, the brass the obvious stars of the show as the players continuously pour out rich, golden tone. But the strings are no less marvelous in their radiant, singing tremolo that elevates the galloping scherzo. The winds shine as well, especially in their many solo passages.
The orchestra's sound is enhanced by the spacious acoustic of the Lübeck Cathedral, with its five-second decay. Hearing the music in this manner supports the notion that Bruckner's symphonies, with their prolonged pauses, were conceived with cathedrals in mind. The Lübeck is an especially ornate space--the camera often focuses on the many elaborate gold statues; otherwise it trains its lens on Wand, who occupies most of the screen time. The brass is a close runner-up. Indeed, there's an odd shot that superimposes Wand's image over the brass choir, which makes it look like he's trying to fend the players off with his baton.
That aside, the overall production takes you inside the music, and it's quite enjoyable to watch--especially as it's graced by powerfully dynamic, clear sound. No matter how many Bruckner Fourth's you may own--even counting any of Wand's audio recordings--this DVD version is a uniquely involving experience, a must for Wand fans and Bruckner lovers alike. [10/31/2006]
--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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