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on 3 December 2001
Arguably the world's greatest conductor of the "core" Austro-German repertoire continues his latest traversal of the Bruckner symphonies with this extraordinary reading of the 8th Symphony, recorded in the Berlin Philharmonie in January 2001, a few weeks after his 89th birthday. The fire of inspiration burns as brightly as ever, the orchestra play like angels and the recording quality could hardly be improved upon. Wand regards this symphony not as a "romantic" work, but as a large classical symphony whose structure must be respected and adhered to. The result should win over even hardline Bruckner-sceptics. A bargain, and already a historic recording.
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on 6 September 2007
This recording of Bruckner's 8th Symphony from Günter Wand and the Berlin Philharmonic is a remarkable achievement. It is difficult to think of any other recording of the symphony which so successfully delivers the combination of splendour, excitement and spirituality found here. One has the sense that conductor and orchestra have worked together to shape every phrase and balance every texture as carefully as possible. At the same time, one never has the feeling that the care for individual details has been achieved at the expense of musical flow or the overall symphonic structure.

Although Wand was 89 when this performance was recorded in 2001, the symphony's climaxes are more exciting than in any other recording I know. In the final climax of the first movement, for example, I was taken aback by the snarling intensity of the music at this point. Equally remarkable is the galloping allegro around 14:50 into the finale, which thrilling beyond measure. Most other performances sound perfunctory at this point. Similarly, the great adagio also has a thrilling climax, and the long coda of the finale is sustained with enormous power.

If I were to be critical, I would have to say there are few places where I feel the tension ebbs a little. Why this is I do not know, but it is as if Wand were suddenly tired or distracted. One area where this can be felt is during the coda of the adagio, which is not as moving as with the Giulini or Karajan VPO recordings.

The Berlin Philharmonic play with a virtuosity and a unanimity which is extremely impressive. Despite being recorded live, the symphony is given a superb recording: the sound is clear, weighty and well balanced, and the engineers have managed to provide a sense of space around the musicians. There are a handful of faint coughs to be heard from the audience but I don't find this a problem.

All things considered, I would put this Wand performance at the top of the current list of recommendable recordings of Bruckner's 8th. Incidentally, prospective purchasers may wish to know that Wand uses the Haas version of the symphony.
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on 10 January 2002
Like all these Wand BPO Bruckner discs this is indispensable . A wonderful sense of the architecture of the piece is revealed without any pulling about of tempi or ponderous speeds .It is a truly spiritual reading
I would urge buyers to snap up the oh so different and thrilling Barbirolli on BBC legends as well if they can afford it
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 19 December 2007
Interestingly, timing of each movement of this awe-inspiring recording by Wand is almost idential to Karajan's 1957 EMI stereo recording, another powerful recording of the 8th played by BPO. But from the very bold opening Wand's determination to dig even deeper into soul of the music and to soar even higher to the transcendent is obvious. The only weakness in this performance may be the less emphatic ending which loses tention at the last moment, while Karajan manages to close the symphony with decisive force. The recording quality is amazingly vivid and present. They should have left ovation at the end. Must have been monumental event!
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on 5 May 2007
It has taken me years to appreciate the music of Bruckner. Had this recording been around 40 odd years ago, things would have been different. It is a truly revelatory performance. The detail is precise with out being prissy. The full range of sound is superb. If there is a Heaven then it must sound like this. It seems such a short work when one listens to it. Only later does one realize that it last just short of a hour and a half.
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on 31 March 2015
Great rendition of the symphony. A couple of days late arriving.
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on 10 June 2015
For Me the Ultimate Bruckner Eight
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on 6 May 2014
I highly recommend this recording of Bruckner's symohony no. 8. It is the best recording I have ever heard (4 different ones), and I believe it is also regarded as perhaps the best recording ever.
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on 6 November 2011
I originally bought the Karajan recording of this work, and was disappointed with the slow pace of the third movement. Wand however is beautifully paced throughout, and combines this with stunning colours drawn from the orchestra. He makes Bruckner's grand architecture beautifully clear with deceptive ease, making it approachable for the first-time listener, as well as highlighting details which make it pleasurable to one returning to it again and again.
I am delighted with every aspect of this recording-the finale in particular is breathtaking. It is well worth buying to add to an existing collection and particularly if is a first of this apocalyptic work.
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on 5 July 2013
Günter Wand's best recording remains his live effort from Lübeck Cathedral (1987), though his Hamburg remake from six years later is no slouch either. Both feature the NDR (North German Radio) Symphony Orchestra.

REFERENCE RECORDINGS: Wand 1987/NDR (RCA), Giulini (DG), Karajan/Vienna (DG), Böhm (Palexa), Suitner (Berlin Classics) and Furtwängler 1944/Vienna (Tahra).

No modern conductor extracts the kind of transcendent reading that Furtwängler does.

For myself, I'll stick with Furtwängler as the supreme historical interpreter of this masterpiece.
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