BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 4 – Böhm cond., Blu-ray (2014)

by | Apr 26, 2014 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 4 – Vienna Philharmonic/ Karl Böhm

Studio: Decca/ Universal Pure Audio Blu-ray [4/28/14]
Audio: 2.0 stereo PCM 24 bit/96hz (no multichannel) DTS-HD MA (24 bit/96hz), Dolby TrueHD (24 bit/96hz)
Length: 68:10
Rating: ****1/2 

This disc is a Pure Audio Blu-ray from Decca. The label is reaching into its back catalog to find analog recordings that can be offered in higher resolution formats. It’s a smart move to recycle music on the shelf, and for music lovers it’s a way of hearing some treasured recording and performances in a quality not previously available. [Especially if you’re all two-channel. This won’t be reissued in multichannel form next year because it was only recorded in 2-channel…Ed.]

This performance of the Bruckner 4th has always been considered somewhat of a reference for this work, ever since it was released in 1973 (and has become the most popular Bruckner symphony). Böhm takes it slow, and the symphony times out to 68:10. The original LP release was a 2-disc set. This is not an idiosyncratic reading, but a very deliberate rendering of Bruckner’s score. This latest offering from Decca comes in three formats, PCM, DTS Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD, but not multichannel. All are 24 bit/96hz resolution.

The sound of this disc is excellent. Not a modern reference, but excellent by contemporary standards. I listened to the music carefully in all three formats and could not hear any obvious differences. Any fairly recent Blu-ray player will have no problem accessing any of the three versions. The sound has analog warmth, and the image of the orchestra is stable across my front speakers.

I think Decca and other companies are to be commended for for these 2.0 Pure Audio releases. We are not likely to hear a better version of this recording, and if, like many others, you feel the Böhm 4th is definitive on LP or CD, then this is the definitive Böhm recording.

—Mel Martin

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