Review by Jonalogic January 3, 2011 (2 of 4 found this review helpful)
|This is a great performance of this epic Bruckner symphony. And I do not use the term 'great' about performances lightly.
It also makes for a fascinating contrast with the Haitink performance with the RCO. I have known and loved that since first hearing it live over 30 years ago; essentially, it hasn't changed since then- broad, intense, spiritual, concentrated and superbly played.
Wand's reading is different - more flexible in tempo, it creates more light and shade in this gargantuan symphony - and that's no bad thing on such a long journey! Even more revealing is Wand's superb control of internal balance; one almost hears details of orchestration and transition as if for the very first time.
Like all fine Bruckner performances, needless to say, Wand and the Berliners have a clear grasp of the moment, as well as the symphony's long-term architecture. And the orchestra plays fabulously in this live reading - it must have brought the house down.
And the sound? This is probably the best sounding of the series I have heard thus far; the wiriness of string tone has been tamed, and the engineers have wrung a tad more air out of the Philharmonie's unwelcoming acoustic.
However, the dynamics still sound constrained and rather 'sat on'. Is this Wand or the engineers? Frankly, not having been there in 2001, I don't know. But listen to Bohm's Bruckner 4 on Universal to hear far truer and more powerful Bruckner dynamics. So, overall, good but no cigar for sound quality, I'm afraid.
Wand and Haitink both comfortably inhabit the summit of Bruckner 8 performances on SACD. Maybe Wand's flag is a few feet higher? No matter, great music always embraces different but epic performances...
More significantly, I find the sound for Wand, despite being far from perfect, somewhat more tolerable than that given to Haitink on RCO Live - IMO, that is thick, opaque, veiled and mushy; altogether more destructive of musical values than the more revealing sound quality given to Wand.
This goes to the top of the tree, therefore.
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