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Symphonies 1-9 (Box Set) Box set

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
The Greatest of the Bruckner-Wand recordings 21 Mar. 2009
By Tired of the BS - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Let's get something clear from the start: the orchestra is spectacular! The Cologne band is the same orchestra featured in Bertini's marvelous Mahler cycle. They perform with fire, passion and virtuosity. I defy anyone to point out lapses in ensemble or faulty intonation anywhere. Fiendishly difficult passages--as in the Scherzo of Symphony No. 1 (Vienna version), the Finales of the 5th and 8th symphonies, among many others--are executed with both precision and musicality. There is no struggle in their music-making and they are recorded (especially in this 24-bit mastered issue) in demonstration quality sound. I own complete and partial cycles of Bruckner symphonies by Solti, Haitink, Chailly, Karajan, Celibidache (EMI), Barenboim (DGG and Teldec), Jochum (DGG and EMI), Dohnanyi, Inbal, Tintner, Skrowaczewski, Asahina, Davies, Rozhdestvensky, and many single issues by the likes of Furtwangler, Klemperer, Boulez, Bernstein, Harnoncourt, Simone Young (keep your eye on this young woman!), and many more. (Readers can hopefully surmise that I do have other examples of Bruckner with which to compare.)

Now, Wand. I came very late to the work of this maestro, as I had also done with Bertini. After buying Wand's Bruckner recordings with the NDR (another world-class orchestra) on a whim, I was amazed at the clarity, command and intensity of his readings. Don't be fooled by the amiable grandfatherly photos of the conductor: his heart, mind and spirit are not arthritic! After purchasing and listening to Wand's Schubert, Beethoven and Brahms symphonies, I am convinced that this man deserves to be considered among the greatest conductors of all time. This is not a Kappelmeister--in the pejorative sense--approach to music. His performances are always involved, individual and --thank God--well rehearsed!

Even though Wand's Berlin recordings of Bruckner (4, 5, 7, 8 and 9) are often singled out as his best recorded Bruckner, I must absolutely disagree. They are good, very good, but nowhere as bracing as his Cologne and NDR versions. While the Berlin performances are quite beautiful, the overall impression is slightly static, somewhat careful, and noticeably slower (most of the time confused with profundity). Compare the 5th, 7th and 8th symphonies with Cologne and NDR, with the ones from Berlin--for me, the difference between "alive" and "artistically embalmed."

I passionately recommend this reviewed set to anyone who loves Bruckner. If you are able to find it, I also encourage you to listen to Wand's NDR (live) cycle (Nos. 3-9 only). I guarantee that you will soon be collecting Wand's other recordings in due time.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
A Testiment To Gunter Wand's Legacy 21 April 2009
By Transfigured Knight - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Gunter Wand in his later years became a supreme advocate of Bruckner's symphonies. This box set titled the "Gunter Wand Edition" is a must for anyone wanting to step outside the cycles Jochum and Karajan. For me, I believe Wand had much more interesting things to say in Bruckner's music than Jochum or Karajan. Before the Jochum/Karajan bandwagon bombards me with a slew of unhelpful votes allow me to explain why I enjoy Wand's Bruckner cycle so much:

1. I really admire the flow that Wand is able to produce with his orchestras. Too often with Bruckner's symphonies, as in the case of Jochum, the listener is treated to a stop-and-go affair with no attention made to the transitions from segment to segment, which in my opinion is one of the most compelling aspects of Bruckner's symphonies. Too often I hear a conductor not really paying attention to these transitions (i. e. Jochum, Lopez-Cobos, Tintner).

2. The attention made to the vast structures of his music are also important. I think Karajan, fails to convince me that he had a full understanding of the given symphony's architecture. Karajan also doesn't build Bruckner's climaxes the way I personally think they should be built. Wand, who has been criticized by being literal to a fault, displays a strong understanding of these structures and is able to build these long durations of tension, which I think gives the listener something to anticipate as Wand approaches that all powerful Bruckner climax.

3. Wand does a remarkable job of handling the tempi. Jochum in both accounts on DG and EMI absolutely butchers the tempi and seems to not put much thought into this very crucial element of the music. Karajan's tempi are much better than Jochum's.

These opinions are not without experience. I have heard both Jochum cycles numerous times and Karajan's EMI and DG recordings. I definitely enjoy Karajan much more than Jochum if I had to pick from these two conductor's cycles. I do feel, however, that Gunter Wand expanded the importance of Bruckner's music for modern audiences by conducting the music with a detail-oriented approach that is engrossing and majestic.

In this particular cycle, the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra plays magnificently. I was not only impressed with Wand, but the committment from this German orchestra. These musicians are all amazing. This orchestra may not be a household name, but their dedication should certainly be commended. This orchestra went on to perform admirably well in Gary Bertini's Mahler series, which has been praised by Mahler fans for years now.

For those just arriving at Bruckner, I would suggest listening to Jochum's and Karajan's cycles first, then persue Wand's recordings. I'm certainly in the minority when it comes to my personal preference in Bruckner conductors. That said, Wand is not for everybody, but I think any self-respecting Brucknerian would not want to be without this set.
22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Please be careful 9 Dec. 2004
By Prescott Cunningham Moore - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Günter Wand is THE conductor when it comes to Bruckner. He traversed the all the great symphonies (with the exception of the mighty 6th) with the Berlin Philharmonic. All have been extremely well received, especially his rendition of the 8th, which won the Gramophone CD of the month. As to be expected, not only are Wand's interpretations inspired but the Philharmonic follows in similar fashion, playing as only the Berlin Philharmonic can.

This set, recorded with the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, is a different beast. Wand's typical energy and passion is of course as evident as ever. The issue I have is with the orchestra. With Bruckner becoming more and more popular, it is becoming increasingly easier to find excellent recordings of the symphonies with exceptional conductors/orchestras. Karajan is always a safe bet. Eugen Jochum's groundbreaking traversal of the symphonies is also highly recommended. In this Wand set, the Cologne Radio Symphony just can't measure up to the better European orchestras. As mentioned above, look for Wand's Berlin Bruckner Symphonies. This set is well conducted and well played in spirit, but the orchestra just cannot measure up.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Wand Bruckner 5th only 18 May 2012
By Robert Mueller - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I have been a Bruckner affectionato for a half century and have heard and appreciated many of the recordings mentioned here. I am limiting my comments to the 5th, which is the only Wand Bruckner I am truly familiar. My favorite 5th has been Horenstein, recorded live in 1971 with the BBC. I also especially like Furtwangler's frenzied 1942 (68 min!) and Weller-Most from 1992 with the London Phil (Not the staid Cleveland recording !).

I have avoided Wand Bruckner ever since Jim Svejda on his syndicated "RECORD SHELF" disdainfully described Wand as a mere kapellmeister about 25 years ago. I usually respect and agree with Svejda, but no longer concerning Wand.

I happened upon a YouTube of 5 versions of Wand conducting the coda of the 5th, each about 3 minutes long. [...]
The first version from 1974 with the Kölner Rundfunk-Sinfonie-Orchester had punch and panache to spare ! I liked the sound, the clarity, and the well-honed, intimate phrasing. I since have listened to the complete Wand - Kölner Rundfunk 5th performance and I now have it my top tier.
Anton Bruckner Symphonies: Gunter Wand 23 Oct. 2012
By MJefferson - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My order of the Wand Bruckner complete symphonies came as ordered on 10 CDs. My order was well packaged but I failed to notice that these 10 CDs are each in their own cd case instead of perhaps 1 or 2 CDcases that would hold possibly 4 or 5 CDs. But I am thrilled to have this set in my collection of the great masters.
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