In mid-September 2001, five months before his death, Günter Wand conducted his final three concerts with the Munich Philharmonic, and included Anton Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, "Romantic," on the program. Volume 4 in Profil's collection, Günter Wand and the Munich Philharmonic -- the label's second series devoted to the conductor -- is meant to be a document of these valedictory performances, though the CD is assembled from the best takes from those evenings and presents an idealization of Wand's ultimate Bruckner interpretations, instead of representing a single event. As a result, it's difficult to judge whether the concerts were successes (the applause at the end seems artificially boosted and stretched out to give that impression), or if this recording is at all close to how things really transpired. Audio levels are not always consistent, even within movements, and the tone quality is variable, thus making it difficult to assess the actual responsiveness of the orchestra or to know if these problems are merely due to bad mixing. In any event, while this is a fair performance of Bruckner's original 1878-1980 version, it is not the best recording that Wand ever made of this symphony. For that, one may turn to his 1998 CD with the Berlin Philharmonic on RCA, a concert performance that achieves the same goals that were intended here -- spaciousness, lucidity, and transcendental power -- only with superior reproduction, richer colors, and a greater sense of unity and verisimilitude.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Symphony No. 4 in E flat ("Romantic"), WAB 104|