Gerd Schaller / Philharmonie Festiva

Anton Bruckner: Symphony 4 with Volksfest-Finale

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For this 2013 live recording of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, "Romantic," Gerd Schaller has chosen William Carragan's edition of the 1878 version with the seldom-played Volkfest-Finale, which is the first of the composer's numerous revisions to depart drastically from the original 1874 version. To the extent that the first three movements resemble all later versions, listeners will certainly recognize this as a standard performance of the "Romantic," though in content and form the Finale is quite unusual and decidedly inferior to the revised Finale from 1881. Including this formative version shows some curiosity on Schaller's part, and students of the symphony's checkered history will likely value this recording for that reason. But most listeners will judge it on the strength of the playing and the remarkable sound quality, which is first-rate for a concert recording. Schaller draws clean sonorities and vibrant harmonies from the Philharmonie Festiva, and the music is played with close attention to details, conviction, and great warmth. The orchestra has clean separation of parts and transparent textures, and Profil's reproduction is extraordinary, even by their high standards.

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