Notes and Editorial Reviews
Symphony No. 4
Sylvain Cambreling, cond: SWR SO Baden-Baden und Freiburg
GLOR 9231 (62:37)
In this delightfully bucolic and warmly lilting 2003 studio account, Sylvain Cambreling performs the 1878/80 version of the “Romantic” in its Nowak edition (1953), which is exactly the same length as the earlier edition by Haas (1936). The main difference: Nowak includes some altered horn parts in the finale’s coda, which were found after 1936 in a copy of the score
that Bruckner sent to New York conductor Anton Seidl in 1886. The overall pacing here (62:37) is a bit swifter than the average (roughly 64–66 minutes) and it comes pretty close to the superb live 1966 Klemperer/Bavarian Radio (60:58). The latter is a deleted EMI release that’s currently available as a CD-R from ArkivMusic.
Cambreling and Klemperer share a few other similarities. Both conductors use Nowak and opt for left-right division of first and second violins, which was the seating norm in Bruckner’s day. Cambreling and Klemperer both adopt straightforward, unitary tempos and eschew the more far-flung
style practiced in the Fourth by such conductors as Furtwängler, Andreae, Heger, and Jochum. However, Klemperer displays much more rubato and phrase expansion/contraction than what’s heard in Cambreling’s more even-keel reading, and the Bavarian ensemble’s textures feature brighter and more prominent trumpets. Both perform the slow movement at a fair clip (after all, it’s an Andante and not an Adagio). Also, both conductors omit the loud cymbal clash in the finale. That clash belongs to the 1888 revised version, but it’s heard in various stereo recordings of the 1878/80 version from Karajan (DG), Horvat (deleted Point Classics), Heger (deleted Maximas), Janssons (RCO), Barenboim (Teldec), and Jochum (DG and elsewhere).
It’s where Cambreling and Klemperer differ that strikes me as even more revealing. In the Andante, the viola section carries the lion’s share of melody throughout, with several beguiling unison trills along the way. Near the movement’s end (at bars 232–234), there is a lovely final trill for unison violas that’s marked “parenthesis Bruckner” by Haas and Nowak (thus optional). I’m happy to say that Cambreling’s violas play that shimmering trill for all it’s worth, thereby joining just three other accounts that observed it: the 1960 Walter (Sony), the 1961 Rosbaud (a private mono tape still unreleased on CD), and the live 1960s Heger (deleted Maximas). By contrast, Klemperer has two unusual textual features not heard from Cambreling. In the Scherzo, Klemperer chooses a variant from Haas (published 1944) that substitutes a more expressive oboe in lieu of flute at the start of the Trio. And at 8:38 into the finale, Klemperer instructs his first horn to answer a trilling clarinet with an improvised (and unwritten) trill of its own. It may not be in the score, but I suspect that Bruckner would have clapped in glee at hearing Klemperer’s unique inventiveness (that trill is not heard elsewhere from Klemperer or anybody else).
This new release from Cambreling and the live Klemperer are now my primary stereo choices for a swift (under 64 minutes) Nowak account of Bruckner’s most popular work. While the Klemperer is, on balance, the more
, this Cambreling has the richer recorded sound and none of the occasional audience and stage noises that can be a bit distracting in the Klemperer. This CD is warmly recommended.
FANFARE: Jeffrey J. Lipscomb
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 4 in E flat major, WAB 104 "Romantic" by Anton Bruckner
Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Written: 1874; Vienna, Austria
Venue: Dortmund, Konzerthaus
Length: 61 Minutes 53 Secs.
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