This brace of Bruckner symphonies, directed by Klaus Tennstedt and performed by the Berlin Philharmonic and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in the early '80s, is a completely satisfying reissue that budding collectors should consider for inclusion in their libraries, though experienced Brucknerians may be more finicky about choosing it. If it doesn't matter to you which version you own of the Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, "Romantic," or if the edition of the Symphony No. 8 in C minor seems like a small issue, then the performances here will be fully convincing and enjoyable, especially because Tennstedt delivers expressive and deeply moving interpretations that depend on the spirit of the music rather than on the letter of the score. However, the choice of editions is of genuine concern for others: if the 1881 version of the Symphony No. 4, edited by Robert Haas, seems to lack authority, or if the Leopold Nowak edition of the 1890 version of the Symphony No. 8 is problematic for you, then you are already an advanced scholar of Bruckner's works and likely have several different recordings of these symphonies in your collection. For the rest of us, though, the greatest concern is the quality of the playing, and it's hard to beat the Berlin Philharmonic for its serenely Romantic delivery, or the London Philharmonic Orchestra for its muscularity and power. Each orchestra knows these works intimately, and under Tennstedt's baton, the performances are intensely lyrical and majestic in their grandeur, just as Bruckner plainly intended. EMI's sound is exceptionally clear and warm for early digital reproduction.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Track Listing - Disc 1
|Symphony No. 4 in E flat ("Romantic"), WAB 104|
Track Listing - Disc 2
|Symphony No. 8 in C minor, WAB 108|