Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 - Wand
Classical - Orchestral
Bruckner: Symphony No. 9
Günter Wand (conductor)
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Review by John Broggio - March 5, 2008
Made from two concerts of the Berliner Festwochen 1998, this finds Wand in typically fine fettle. It is easy to recommend this alongside Bruckner: Symphony No. 9 - Harnoncourt from a performance perspective because of the very different approach adopted by Harnoncourt.
Wand is from the school of Brucknerian's that believe in flexibility of tempo and this can lead to many exciting climaxes due to prior relaxations. As in Vienna for Harnoncourt, the Berliner Philharmoniker play their hearts out for Wand with deeply committed playing. The tempi are broadly similar between the two conductors although Wand takes some 2 minutes longer in the first movement and 1 minute longer in the Adagio. The difference is largely accounted for by the greater adoption of the tempo inflections indicated by the score - whether one feels this is a better approach is largely a matter of taste but (as someone who is more naturally at home with Harnoncourt's approach) there is little that will jar with the vast majority of listeners.
As with all great Bruckner conductors and orchestras, details that are not usually heard become a convincing part of the whole rather than a feature in themselves. Perhaps the only mildly questionable aspect is the rather relaxed tempo for the Trio. This aside, one can brook no criticism against Wand's conception or handling of the BPO - there are a couple of instances where the tone and tuning are a little below their usual exalted standards but it is still several leagues above most other ensembles. There is a constant feeling of a mutual exploration between all participants and a deep sense of respect for each other and the score. This is most keenly felt in the concluding Adagio where it seems like Wand makes a suggestion, the orchestra concurs and then makes a suggestion in return - wonderful music making.
Like the Großes Festspielhaus (Salzburg), the Philharmonie is not an ideal venue for recording hi-resolution music and the engineering team do not tame the acoustic fully. Due to the phenomenal response of the basses and lower brass, many of their parts become a sonic sludge, although with careful adjustment of ones equipment it is obvious that this is not a fair reflection of the playing. Their Bruckner 8 of 2002 is far better recorded, the engineers having become accustomed to the (many) quirks of the hall.
Copyright © 2008 John Broggio and HRAudio.net