Bruckner: Sinfonie Nr. 4 "Romantische"

Sylvain Cambreling / SWR Baden-Baden and Freiburg Symphony Orchestra

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Bruckner: Sinfonie Nr. 4 "Romantische" Review

by Blair Sanderson

Don't expect anything surprising or controversial in Sylvain Cambreling's 2003 performance of Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, "Romantic," with the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg, because it's about as straightforward as any recording of this work has ever been. Cambreling uses the 1886 version, edited by Leopold Nowak, which is one of the most frequently performed and recorded, and he thereby avoids the issues of performing Bruckner's original version, which has been a preferred choice for many contemporary maestros or of recording any discredited edition. In his conducting, Cambreling is pretty much four-square and steady on the beat, allowing only the mildest touches of rubato at the endings of lyrical passages. As far as his interpretation goes, Cambreling tends to follow traditional tempos and pacing, and only accedes to modern trends in taking the Andante quasi Allegretto at a brisker clip than conductors of previous decades did. All in all, there is little new here that can't be found on many other recordings, and that is perhaps a good thing, especially in a Bruckner recording, where issues of multiple versions, revisions, editions, and interpretations have left many listeners -- and more than a few experts -- bewildered. One may actually want Cambreling's version for its predictability and regularity; certainly, having this clean-sounding recording, with all its fine detail and wonderful resonance, is a viable option, especially for beginners who know no other renditions or releases. So what seems like a routine recording may in fact be quite desirable, and the only point against Cambreling's performance would be its redundancy in a large collection of similar recordings of this work.

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