Shop now Shop now Shop now Wedding Guest Edit Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Oasis Listen with Prime Shop now Learn more

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars6
4.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
3
4 star
2
3 star
0
2 star
0
1 star
1
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

on 13 March 2012
Anyone who is blessed enough to own Karajan's DG box set of the complete Bruckner symphonies knows what it means to be swept away by glorious vision. With the Berliners, he was able to achieve a frightening intensity of control. His Bruckner had a spacious feeling, a feeling that makes the listener feel that he is on a mountain top, wallowing in the glory and majesty of his elevated position yet keenly aware of what's above him, namely God himself.

So when Sir Simon Rattle records the Bruckner 4th with the same orchestra used by Karajan, he is up against very high odds. For many, Rattle must outshine Karajan or vindicate the premise that the great conductors have vanished from off the face of the earth. His job is made doubly difficult by the fact that many listeners view Karajan's nearly bombastic approach as the only way. For them, competing with Karajan will mean surpassing Karajan in terror and strength.

I hate to break the news to you, but if Rattle must rival Karajan's iron grip to achieve success, he's failed miserably. Frankly, I don't think any conductor will ever be able to replace Karajan in what he stood for. But I'm reluctant to accept the premise that Karajan's way is the only way. Rattle realizes that imitating Karajan is the sign of a follower--and we expect more from the conductor of the world's greatest orchestra. But thankfully, Rattle attempts to show us that life after Karajan means new ways of looking at Bruckner.

This is Bruckner's "Romantic" Symphony and Rattle seems aware of this fact. For him, this symphony has extreme potential for sensitive beauty. Rattle's Berliners have far greater freedom of expressivity than they did under Karajan which Rattle takes advantage of; he offers nuances that you won't get with Karajan. Absent is the thick wall of sound that characterized Karajan's reign with the orchestra. The orchestra's tone is still just as dark and rich, however. Instead of being hit by everything all at once as with Karajan, Rattle boasts transparency. Karajan could deliver powerful chords with such vigor that the listener wonders if he has been shot. Rattle doesn't match Karajan in this respect, but I was taken off guard by how close he comes. Rattle can struggle with wallowing in the sound of the Berliners and holding back power, but he doesn't here.

Listening to Rattle share his feelings on this symphony, he said many things that were eerily reminiscent of Karajan. The stress the two place on the overall vision of the work is strikingly similar. Rattle stated that he found it essential to find one pulse for the whole work, seeing need for control. He also spoke of how the melodies seemingly go on forever but how it is imperative that the music also stops and breathes. In these regards, Karajan and Rattle differ little. The difference is in the execution. Karajan is speaking of smoky mountains and specializes in creating a chilling reverence that certainly evokes fear. Rattle wants us to hear the charm in the symphony. He doesn't want Bruckner to seem uncompromising; warmth lies on every page. There's an innocent side to Bruckner he let us hear, a lyricism that is strikingly Schubertian. You don't get that with Karajan. Rattle voices the symphony with such love that it is almost unbearably beautiful. Yet he never misses the overall vision; there's always a sense of breadth.

Does Rattle better Karajan? I'm not qualified to answer as both interpretations are utterly compelling in their own unique way--too great for mortals to judge. But I would argue that Rattle has offered us Bruckner that is worthy of comparison with Karajan. Both interpretations are vastly different and many will feel that Karajan is far superior. For myself, I don't think it's one or the other. I'm awfully privileged to own them both.
0Comment|9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
There is no shortage of fine Bruckner 4s but this is another one. And it was recorded live, which I can't recall being true of many others, perhaps Wand's BPO CD for RCA. The performance has a slight Schubertian tinge but is weighty and powerful with plenty of impetus.

The BPO playing is outstanding as is the recording - with the slight caveat that the in opening pages of the first movement occasionally the brass attacks lack crispness and the recording doesn't seem quite as transparent sonically as the rest of the performance - was this perhaps recorded on a different night to the rest of the CD? But these are minor quibbles.

In fact the only reason I might not give this 5 stars is the presence in the catalogue of a more individual reading - namely that by Celibidache on EMI. Here Celi's interpretation and penchant for slightly slower speeds make absolute sense, and one ends up almost with a recreation rather than an interpretation. That would be my first choice.
0Comment|8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
Simon Rattle has a way of making music that enables you to rediscover a piece you thought you knew inside and out. However, there are occasions where, his recording having successfully syringed your ears, you return gratefully to the older, more venerable version/s you already have and leave Rattle's to languish on the shelf. This is another one of those.

As with this Bruckner Seven, there is an admirable concern for structure, lucidity, grandeur; unfortunately, one hankers after a certain warmth, a generosity of spirit. The Romantic can sound refreshingly al fresco in the hands of Haitink, Jochum, Celibidache. Rattle conveys a remarkable sense of stillness in the andante, but ultimately one is left only half full at the end. Having said that, he's way better than Klemperer (EMI) and so it is to admirers of that old '60s maestro that I recommend this new version.
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 19 April 2013
Really, this performance, Bruckner-wise, is shallower than the Aral Sea. For all the surface beauty & rhetoric, any metaphysical connection with Bruckner is spasmodic at best. Karajan, it is reported, would take a week to recover from a performance of the Sibelius Fourth. On the evidence at hand, come the coda of the final movement, Sir Simon jauntily booked himself in for the another sexy man-perm.

The Romantic Symphony is a deeply numinous if not terrifying work - terrifying in the same sense as Sibelius looking out at the Great Forest from his dwelling in Ainola and knowing in his bones that Otherness - perhaps Tapio himself - is resident. It's where the Wild Things really are. Take, for instance, the great chorale in the middle of the first movement; with the likes of Karajan (DG), one is immolated like the Burning Bush. Sir Simon, on the other hand, evokes a fine orchestral response and not much else. The opening horncall is prosaic and the slow movement has the mystique of a hamburger joint.

The real test is this: where's the hunger for Rattle's Eighth? Mmmmmh: the rest is silence.

And if you want a real laugh, watch the promotional video that EMI released in conjunction with the CD. It is on YouTube. Poor old Sir Simon is decidedly uncomfortable when he addresses Bruckner's Catholicism - his Adam's Apple is bolted down but watch his eyes when the moment of terror comes.

I rest my case.

If you need a Four, turn rather to Karajan (either will do), Celi, Furtwangler or Kna.

Gobble Gobble.
33 comments|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 September 2014
This is a brilliant piece of music!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 24 May 2013
I am a double bass player and was to play this piece in a concert. As this piece was new to me I bought it and found it most engaging. This version is one that I can listen to and relax even when I am tired.
I have no hesitation in recommending it.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)