BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E minor, conducted by Günter Wand (1999)

by | Dec 11, 2006 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 7 in E minor, conducted by Günter Wand (1999)

Conducting the NDR Symphony Orchestra at the 1999 Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival
Video: 4:3 full screen, color
Audio: PCM Stereo
No region code
Length: 69 minutes
Rating: ****

Another in the estimable series of TDK videos featuring Bruckner specialist Wand. He uses the Robert Haas 1883 version in this live performance during one of the leading German music festivals. Wand’s conducting style appears sort of like a more gentle Stokowski. While not possessing the most expressive face on the podium, he does smile occasionally. And his left hand often becomes his expressive tool. Director Hugo Käch gives us a good variety of shots, from seeing the entire orchestra and hall environment to super closeups of instrumental soloists.  The French horn section is especially photogenic, and magnificent in their sonic accuracy – in fact the entire brass section – so vital to bring across a successful Bruckner performance – is nothing less than superb.

The deepest base lines of the large doublebass section come across with extended and clean sonics.  I compared the PCM stereo – which is only 48K rather than 96K – with a recent PentaTone Bruckner Seventh SACD set for the stereo mix.  There was amazingly little difference between the two, except for perhaps a bit more transparency in the huge orchestral climaxes via the SACD. The full frame image also stretches well to fill a 16:9 ratio, at least on my screen. (Musicians at the edges of the screen don’t seem to appear much fatter than usual, in other words.) The work’s second movement is one of Bruckner’s most emotional outpourings, written as he anticipated his hero Wagner’s approaching death.  Light and quite jovial – for Bruckner anyway – the scherzo movement makes use of repeated ostinatos that trot along at a bouncing 6/4 pace, with a short middle section that is slower and more lyrical. The massive final movement communicates great energy and brings back themes from the earlier movements almost in strict Franckian cyclical style. The coda quotes the very first theme which was heard in the opening movement. The muscular quality of Bruckner’s writing is conveyed with exciting forcefulness by the orchestra.

 – John Sunier

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