Günter Wand was one of the most revered old conductors, a man whose Bruckner and Schubert recordings from the last decades of the twentieth century when he was in his eighties and nineties were eagerly awaited by collectors around the world. But back when he was only in his forties and fifties and leading the Gurzenich Orchestra of Cologne, Wand was barely known outside Europe because his recordings were not distributed outside Europe. As those recordings prove, however, Wand was no late bloomer, but a star conductor from the start.
These recordings of Haydn's Symphonies Nos. 82 ("The Bear"), No. 92 ("Oxford"), and No. 103 ("Drum Roll") that Wand made with the Gurzenich Orchestra are as fine, as deep, and as fun as the best ever made. His "Bear" is strong but flexible, his "Oxford" is witty but brilliant and his "Drum Roll" is not only grand and glorious, it comes as close to touching the infinite as any recording of the work ever made. The moment in the opening movement when the music slows, stops, and pauses for a moment before the return of the drum roll that started the piece is simply sublime and Wand's whole recording has moments like that. Testament's remastered recordings are full, warm, and round.