Day 64: Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major (Wand)

wandcd4This morning’s conductor of Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major (WAB 104), titled “Romantic” by Bruckner himself, is German-born Gunter Wand (1912-2002).

Maestro Wand’s name had come up a time or two when I read reviews online of Bruckner’s symphonies.

So, when I first started my project – back on October 3rd – he was one of the conductors I looked forward to hearing.

And hear him I did on Day 16.

Then, again on Day 32.

And, most recently, on Day 48.

Today is the fourth time I’m listening to Mr. Wand conduct a Bruckner symphony.

It’s also the last time I’ll be listening to Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major.

Tomorrow, I begin a brand new (to me, anyway) symphony.

But that’s tomorrow.

wandcd4backToday is today.

Back to the nuts and bolts:

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major composed in 1874
Gunter Wand conducts
Wand used the 1880 version, edited by Robert Haas
Kolner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester plays
The symphony clocks in at 64:01
This was recorded at the Klaus-von-Bismarck-Saal, in Cologne, Germany, 1976
Wand was 64 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 50 when he composed it
This recording was released on the Red Seal label

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four parts. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major, 1880 version, edited by Haas), from this particular conductor (Wand) and this particular orchestra (Kolner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester) is as follows:

I. Bewegt, nicht zu schnell (With motion, not too fast) (E-flat major)…………..17:36
II. Andante, quasi allegretto (C minor)…………………………………………………………15:41
III. Scherzo. Bewegt (With motion) – Trio: Nicht zu schnell (Not too fast) (B-flat major)……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..10:41
IV. Finale: Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (With motion, but not too fast) (E-flat major)………………………………………………………………………………………………………………20:21

Total running time: 64:01

Of the 1880 version, its entry on Wikipedia tells us this:

1880 version (aka 1878/1880)
After the lapse of almost a year (during which he composed his String Quintet in F Major), Bruckner took up his Fourth Symphony once again. Between 19 November 1879 and 5 June 1880 he composed a new finale – the third, though it shares much of its thematic material with the first version – and discarded the Volksfest finale. Thus the 1880 version is the same as the 1878 version but with a new finale. This was the version performed at the work’s premiere on 20 February 1881, which was the first premiere of a Bruckner symphony not to be conducted by Bruckner himself. This version is sometimes referred to as the 1878/80 version.

Okay. Now for the subjective stuff…

My Rating:
Recording quality: 3
Overall musicianship: 3
CD liner notes: 0 (no liner notes – totally unacceptable)
How does this make me feel: 3

As I posted yesterday, I notice that I judge Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony by three things:

1. The tone of the horns and the tempo of the opening (first 1-2 minutes) of Movement I

2. Movement III (Scherzo) and the “Hunt” motif (does it invigorate me?)

3. The final moments of the Finale (in this case, from 17:53 onward)

If the opening horn grabs me, if the Scherzo stirs me, if the Finale makes me hinge on each note until the last…

…I can shout “Huzzah!” and feel satisfied by my listening experience.

In this case…

No Huzzah!

Despite providing me with a fun Movement III (Scherzo), I wasn’t particularly moved by this recording. I don’t know why. It was well recorded. It contained a few delightful moments. But it lacked magic.

And I’m all about the magic.

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