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Bruckner: Symphony No 4

14 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 8, 2007
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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Bruckner's Fourth Symphony underwent a complicated revision history. This recording uses the Nowak from 1886. Bruckner himself nicknamed this symphony "The Romantic." Its 1881 premiere marked his first Viennese triumph; it remains his most popular symphony, despite its occasional repetitiousness and moments when grandeur becomes grandiosity. As always, the spirit of Wagner hovers over the harmonies and the orchestration. The solemn processionals and chorales reveal the devout Catholic, while the sonorities and the frequent rests and pauses recall the organist resetting his stops. The Symphony abounds with long, arching melodies - somber and prayerful, soaring and ecstatic - and innumerable climaxes, often aborted but gathering for the final triumph. The incomparable Berlin Philharmonic revels in the glorious orchestral sound, from each individual solo to the massed tuttis. The performance is immensely exciting, expressive, and evocative. The only flaw is the excessive dynamic contrast; keep a finger on the volume-control. --Edith Eisler

1. Bewegt, nicht zu schnell
2. Andante quasi allegretto
3. Scherzo- trio
4. Finale

Product Details

  • Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic
  • Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle
  • Composer: Anton Bruckner
  • Audio CD (May 8, 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Warner Classics
  • ASIN: B000NPCMJE
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,719 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kostas A. Lavdas on March 31, 2008
Format: Audio CD
The supposedly `anti-epic' readings of Bruckner claim many victims. It has become fashionable to try applying to Bruckner an approach which aims at lighter orchestral textures and restrained expression. Rattle's Fourth with the Berliner Philharmoniker is an interesting example. As is the case with some of Haitink's more recent Bruckner recordings, it is not a Germanic approach that is missing here; rather what is missing is a genuine interpretative viewpoint, an attempt to mobilize the score in a particular manner. This is remarkable since there are so many different and divergent recordings of the Fourth that are important, despite being so different. Karajan's with the Berliner presents us with an awesome adventure in sound, without losing sight of the tension inherent in the score (DG). Jochum's Dresden recording brings to modern audiences a somewhat archaic touch with lots of flexibility in tempo and phrasing coupled with heartfelt interpretative insights (EMI). Then there is of course Böhm's natural and graceful recording with the Wiener Philharmoniker (Decca), and - perhaps at the other end - Sinopoli's intellectual dissection of the Fourth to the point of deconstruction (DG). They are so different but they share one significant aspect: they all have something to say.

Rattle's Beethoven cycle with the Wiener Philharmoniker was at least able to present a worthwhile mix of insights gained from recent scholarship and older orchestral sensibilities. This, on the other hand, is quite simply Bruckner without a soul. Nor is it a match for Sinopoli's sharp analytical reading on DG. Far from it. In the absence of at least some evident intellectual curiosity, Bruckner without a soul comes close to rehearsing climaxes.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAME on July 26, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Sir Simon Rattle's majestic account with the Berliner Philharmoniker of Bruckner's 4th "Romantic" Symphony may be the best recording he has made with this venerable orchestra so far. Its sterling musicianship is as fine as it was during when both Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado were at their peak as conductors leading this orchestra, which is still one of the world's very best. Special praise must go to the principal French horn solo which opens the first movement, and to some memorable flute solos from, presumably, principal flutist Emmanuel Pahud, as well as some other elegant, exquisite playing from the winds, horns and strings throughout this recording, which was compiled by EMI sound engineers from several 2006 live performances held at Berlin's Philharmonie Hall. Rattle's interpretation is replete with broad tempi, and yet this is one performance which doesn't "drag", but instead, is insightful, with Rattle leading the orchestral in a lyrical interpretation which expresses the sonic richness of the architecturally complex 1886 Nowak edition of Bruckner's score. But is Rattle's interpretation a definitive one, worthy of interest to those seeking the "best" interpretation of this symphony?

There are many fine accounts of this symphony, so the short answer to my question is "No". Indeed there are three exciting accounts recorded between 1975 and 1997 that I recommend quite highly, featuring both excellent playing from these orchestras and a rather faithful adherence to brisk tempi from three different conductors.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John J. Puccio TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 4, 2013
Format: Audio CD
I wish I could say that Rattle's reading expresses all of Bruckner's spiritual fervor and picturesque tone painting, but, alas, for me it accomplishes only half the job. For example, the first movement, with its knights galloping out into the mists, moved me not at all. In fact, I found it somewhat dull, not because Rattle takes it any slower than some other conductors but because he seems to be consciously trying too hard to make the music seem exalted, which the music can nicely do on its own, thank you. EMI's live recording doesn't improve the situation.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By G. Daulie on March 2, 2014
Format: Audio CD
This version of the fourth symphony weighs a lot of tons. Never confuse power and heaviness !
The final is totally missed and fell flat. With Karajan it reached a peak of power and splendor.

Berlin definitely loss his great and specific sound... :-(
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Colloredo von Salzburg on March 21, 2010
Format: Audio CD
After hearing for ages so GIANT performances of this symphony by
this orchestra under batons of Karajan, Jochum, Wand, even Tennstedt,
this new B4 is a relative deception. Although the BPO can play this
work in autopilot, i can see the absolute lack of character, blandness
and in general terms an unidiomatic performance that doesn't have even
an ideal sound balance. Not good for real brucknerians.
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Format: Audio CD
A couple reviews have mentioned Celibidache's tempos vs. Rattle's. Compared to the EMI/Munich Phil recording, at least, in the first two movements the Rattle recording is within about 2 minutes of the allegedly "glacial" pacing of the Romanian, and only significantly faster overall in the Finale (4 minutes less, Rattle = 23:48, Celibidache = 27:53, but, if memory serves, I think some applause may be included in the longer recording, so the overall difference may be slighter). Sir Simon is actually a tad slower than Celibidache in the Scherzo, but by mere seconds. As indicated by Mr. Leach's review, Celibidache's 4th (along with his 6th) are often pointed to as examples of how successful this slower way with Bruckner could be, and "clock time" isn't always an accurate measure of how fast or slow a musical work FEELS. Some of the slow movements in Celibidache's versions work quite well, in my opinion, though his stretching of tempos in the first and last movements of some of the other symphonies is more questionable - but still worth giving a listen. The fact that Rattle uses the Nowak edition of Bruckner's 4th (whereas Celibidache uses the Hass) may have some bearing on the actual number of bars each performance includes. However, to say that Rattle is coming close to Celibidache's approach to this symphony, but not quite getting the same result - or attaining the same success - isn't far off the mark.

I had hoped for better sound quality from this new(ish) (2007) recording, but the often tubby and veiled sound stage frequently distracted me from the interesting nuances Rattle and the Berliners seemed to be going for. Quieter passages could often be difficult to hear at a normal volume setting, but the louder outbursts would be both deafening and strangely boxy at a higher setting.
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