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Up There With The Best of Fourths,
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This review is from: Bruckner: Symphony No.4 (Audio CD)
I reviewed this performance for The Bruckner Journal in a round-up of half a dozen London Bruckner performances in the 2008/2009 season, and wrote as follows:
"There's not much to be said about Dohnanyi and the Philharmonia's performance of the more familiar 1878/80 version of the 4th, other than that it was in another league, an absolutely first-class performance that shone like gold. The orchestra were on magnificent form, and even though the brass were complemented by an extra horn, an extra trumpet and an extra trombone above that which is called for in the score, the orchestral balance was in the event exemplary, and a joy to listen to. Nothing questionable or self-conscious here about the long line, or attention to detail: the performance took hold from the moment of its opening, did not let go through to the glorious all-embracing coda, and lives with me still at the time of writing, weeks after the event. It was the sort of performance that reminds you of what it is this music can do, and why you love Bruckner so much - and all the more welcome because my previous experience of performances conducted by Christoph von Dohnanyi had not led me to expect something so inspired.
Colin Anderson on classicalsource dot com was also enthusiastic, "It was a magnificent performance, wonderfully assured and insightful, rarefied, powerful, suggestive and glowing, Dohnányi and the Philharmonia creating a magical, mysterious and awe-inspiring landscape that was alive to the music's range, intricacy and dance inflexions, episodes and impulses given full value while remaining part of the whole." Once again the concert-going public were not greatly in evidence - if only they knew what they were missing!"
I can report that the CD captures much of the magic of that occasion, and the opening horn calls and continuing work of the horns is beyond praise. There is something odd about the added reverb: I'm not necessarily against it as the Royal Festival Hall acoustic can be a little dry on record, and if you didn't know that you probably wouldn't notice it - but I think it needs to be very subtly applied.
So this disc is well worth having for a wonderful performance of Bruckner, but also for a marvellous record of the Philharmonia at their very considerable best!