Ivor Bolton / Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra

Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 4

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Using Leopold Nowak's edition of the 1886 version, Ivor Bolton leads the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg in a rather calm and understated performance of Anton Bruckner's beloved Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, "Romantic." While the trend among contemporary conductors has been to perform Bruckner's symphonies in their original versions (which are sometimes dramatically different compositions than the later revisions), or to find interesting ways to play the music in authentic 19th century style, Bolton eschews all attention-grabbing gimmicks and delivers a Fourth that most listeners will recognize. Indeed, this is one of the most commonly performed editions (famously recorded by Böhm, Klemperer, Jochum, Ormandy, and Abbado, among many others), and its familiarity makes it feel soothing and comforting, especially to anyone who has agonized over which of Bruckner's multiple versions to choose. Bolton gives the music a gentle, sympathetic interpretation, and aside from the repeated triplet fanfares and staggered hunting calls that made this piece famous as a virtuoso showcase for brass, the playing is surprisingly restrained and mellow in most sections. Yet this is also a warm performance, and despite the fairly dry acoustics of the hall, the burnished sonorities and vibrant colors of the orchestra make the music inviting. Bolton's series of Bruckner's symphonies on Oehms is worth looking for, and this volume is one to play repeatedly.

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