BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major, “Romantic;” BEETHOVEN: Leonore Overture No. 3 – NDR Symphony Orchestra/ Günter Wand cond. (1990)

by | Aug 8, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major, “Romantic;”  BEETHOVEN: Leonore Overture No. 3 – NDR Symphony Orchestra/ Günter Wand cond. (1990)

Taped at Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival
Studio: TDK DVWW-COWANDS
Video: 4:3 color
Audio: PCM Stereo
No region code
Length: 87 minutes
Rating: ****

Recorded in the striking Baroque cathedral in Lübeck, Germany in June 1990, this is another in the series of Bruckner performances meticulously conducted by the late specialist in this composer. He used the Robert Haas edition.  The orchestra is placed where the congregation would normally be in the cathedral, and the space is dominated by a huge crucifix that looks to be made of giant branches. The video occasionally superimposes Wand conducted over a long view of the cathedral interior, or combines closeups of certain instruments such as the trumpets or the heads of the tympani beaters with shots of Wand in action. The space has a huge reverberation time – more like what would be appropriate to a choral/orchestral work such as a mass.  It is cleanly reproduced by the 48K PCM audio and doesn’t muddy up any subtleties of Bruckner’s muscular orchestrations.

As I mentioned in a previous Bruckner/Wand DVD review, this is a work which lacks the sort of visual interest found in pieces with soloists and or chorus.  It is a tribute to the German director and producer of this series that interest is kept up well throughout the lengthy work.  The sound pickup is excellent and translates well via ProLogic II for surround effect if you desire that.  (Thanks to TDK for not using Dolby Digital in order to provide surround.) And the well-accepted phenomenon of the moving images pulling you in and making the sound seem even better than it really is also holds here. It certainly sounds much better than Wand’s Red Seal CDs, and I think even against the Bruckner 4th I have on multichannel SACD (since it’s not Wand conducting) I would prefer this video version.  The Fourth is probably the best Bruckner symphony with which to begin an acquaintance with this composer, and this DVD could provide a fine starting place.  It comes with a useful booklet of notes.

 – John Sunier

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