Note: Amazon confuses matters by showing two different covers for this recording, the wrong one being a Bruckner Fifth from Berlin with the Deautsches Symphonie-Orchester.
Every conductor knows that he has to crack a tough nut in the long, winding structure of the Bruckner fifth, where three of the four movements begin with somber pizzicatos in the lower strings and the search for a major-key resolution lasts until the final measures. There are episodes of sacred chorales that impede the musics forward motion, a massive double fugue at the end - in short, many fascinating Brucknerian ideas contained in a rather lumpy sack.
The strength of this live fifth from Munich is that gunter Wand isn't daunted by any of these obstacles. But the downside is that he doesn't address them, either. He moves ahead with clear eyes, a refreshing absence of pretension, and no particular reverence (the chorales are taken almost in tempo where recent readings from Maazel and Haitink take big slow downs to underline the ecclesiastical moments). If you want an actual interpretation, it's not here. Wand applies his style uniformly from movement to movement, and that's what you get. The strongest movement is the Scherzo, where the conductor wakes up and injects a note of vitality.
For me, this performance is a dollar short, but Wand's fans might want to take a closer look. The orchestral sounds are resplendent, the recording well made, the orchestra playing with solid commitment. Those aren't negligible virtues. (Believe it or not, Profil has another live Bruckner Fifth from Wand with the Deutsche Sym. Berlin. Reviewers seem to compare it unfavorably to this one in terms of playing and sound. I doubt that there's much real difference.)