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Bruckner: Wand/ Bbc Proms (Symphony No.5) (Ica Classics: ICAD 5049) [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]

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Renowned for his interpretations of Bruckners Symphonies, Günter Wand (1912-2002) held prominent positions for over thirty years in Cologne at the Cologne Opera and the Gurzenich Orchestra as well as conducting the WDR Symphony Orchestra after which he moved to Switzerland, where his reputation grew. Described as his personal Symphony of Fate, his great affinity for Bruckners Fifth Symphony in particular was noted by the composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann. His first recording of the work won the German Record Prize in 1978, and became a huge success. In his recording of Bruckner 5 with the Berlin Philharmonic on RCA, Wand is described in the Penguin Guide as an experienced and selfless interpreter [who] gives a noble reading, magnificently played. In the early 80s Wand became Principal Conductor of the NDR Symphony Orchestra, as well as conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the first time. Wands London concerts with the BBC Symphony as Principal Guest Conductor were much acclaimed particularly in his later years, having finally gained the recognition he deserved. The bonus interview shows Wands deep understanding and appreciation of this music through his discourse on mysticism in Bruckners works and the structure of the Fifth Symphony.


Observing Wand at the head of the fifth is like seeing an elderly man in love: virtually every phrase inspires a prior response-the raising of an eyebrow, the hint of a smile, eyes slowly scanning the relevant desks, the beat, always perfectly clear. No score is used and Wand's concentration doesn t falter for a moment. The BBC Symphony Orchestra delivers magnificently and the performance itself is everything one could wish for. A real treat. --Gramphone,Mar'12

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Terrifically-Heroic Performance In Smudgy Armor 2 Jun 2012
By Douglas S. Halfen - Published on
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The BBC Symphony Orchestra will never be confused with the Berliner or Wiener Philhamoniker, but they aren't the Palookaville Pops, either, and this DVD attests to what near-magnificence they can accomplish under a GREAT conductor.

In fact, Wand seems to want to "make a statement" with this performance -- it's probably the most bracing, animated Bruckner ever recorded under his baton, ESPECIALLY for the 5th symphony! The first movement is splendidly straightforward (with some excellent sonorities from the brass at key moments), and he deftly balances the quieter passages against the explosive blasts. But the Adagio, the tragic heart of the symphony, proceeds at a most-vigorous pace -- very dramatic, and quite engaging!

The Scherzo/Trio land back in more conservative territory, but the Finale is simply stunning. Wand takes the reins off the horse and steps on the gas at some surprising points; in fact, I think he catches the orchestra off-guard with a few spontaneous touches! The BBCers respond admirably, though the occasional flub (especially from an increasingly-tired brass section, which is all-too-understandable in this symphony) cuts my star-rating by one. This is _not_ a technically-perfect performance, and I spot a few moments where the sections clearly become a bit "unglued" -- but they always recover nicely. The thunderous applause at the end was WELL-deserved.

Thus, I'll gladly be returning to this performance in the future!!!
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