Day 16: Symphony No. 1 in C Minor (Wand)

brucknerwandcd1This morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 1 in C Minor (WAB 101) is German-born Gunter Wand (1912-2002), someone – thanks to reviews on Amazon and elsewhere – I’ve been eager to hear.

From his entry on Wikipedia:

Günter Wand (January 7, 1912, in Elberfeld, Germany – February 14, 2002, in Ulmiz near Bern, Switzerland) was a German orchestra conductor and composer. Wand studied in Wuppertal, Allenstein and Detmold. At the Cologne conservatory, he was a composition student with Philipp Jarnach and a piano student with Paul Baumgartner. He was a conducting pupil of Franz von Hoesslin in Munich, but was otherwise largely self-taught as a conductor. During his 65-year-long career as a conductor, he was honoured with many significant awards, including the German Record Award and the internationally important Diapason d’Or.

brucknerwandboxToday is an important milestone for this project: I am at Day 16, the end of listening to all of Bruckner’s First Symphony from 16 different box sets.

I just wish I’d be going out on a high note.

But, I’ll leave the subjective comments for the end of this morning’s post.

Here’s what’s objective:

Gunter Wand conducted
Kolner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester played the music
This was recorded in 1981 in Cologne, Germany
Wand was 69 when he conducted it
Wand used the 1891 Vienna version
Bruckner was 42 when he finished composing it (before all the subsequent revisions)
This box set was released on the RCA/Sony Record Label
There are no liner notes

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (1891 Vienna version), from this particular conductor (Wand) and this particular orchestra (Kolner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester) is as follows:


I’ll compare Wand’s interpretation to one from one of my favorite conductors so far: Jochum, from my post on 9 October 2016.

The timing breakdown from the Jochum interpretation (which uses the Linz version – so maybe this isn’t a fair head-to-head comparison) with orchestral performance by Staatskapelle Dresden was:


As you can see, the Wand version is slightly longer longer by about two and a half minutes.

Yet, those two and a half minutes seem like two and a half hours.

Oops. That’s a subjective comment in the objective part of my post.

Now, here is the subjective aspect:

My Rating:
Recording quality: 3
Overall musicianship: 3
CD liner notes: 0 (There are none – totally unacceptable)
How does this make me feel: 2

This recording bored me to tears. I listened to it three or four times through before I posted this.

It didn’t grow on me.

The orchestra sounds bored. The performance is lethargic. I could find neither highs nor lows, nothing that stirred my blood.

If I had heard this version of Bruckner’s First Symphony on the local Classical radio station instead of Karajan’s or Tintner’s I never would have started this project.

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