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on 11 August 2013
Franz Welser-Möst and his Clevelanders are arguably the most outstanding Bruckner interpreters today. Their Fourth, captured live under the direction of Brian Large in brilliant video and excellent audio, in the Stiftsbasilika St. Florian on 1 September 2012, is not only a perfect new installment in their recordings of the Bruckner symphonies but a small sensation in itself. Welser-Möst, most likely today's foremost Bruckner authority, uses the version of 1888, published by the American musicologist Benjamin Korstvedt in 2004 - first recorded on CD by Osmo Vänskä with the Minnesota Orchestra in 2010 in a very fine reading - thus setting a clear precedent on DVD for future performances. And the Korstvedt edition holds quite a few surprises for those of us who grew up with Haas and Novak. There are never-before-heard figurations in the woodwinds, violas and celli, significant nuances in the brass parts, smaller changes from the 1880/81 version in the first and second movements, a substantial - not unwelcome - cut in the Scherzo and, most obvious, a restored cymbal crash (expunged by Haas and Novak, still retained in the 1960s by some conductors like Jochum, Karajan and Steinberg) in the finale's reprise of the main theme. The cymbal crash (as well as the two following brushes) is not only quite effective but also a perfect climax in the symphony's texture, not unlike the Seventh's slow movement.

St. Florian has a long reverberation which the recording engineers nicely tamed: a remarkable feat. In the first few minutes a very slight harshness in the upper register can be heard until it disappears for the remainder of the performance. The Cleveland musicians are wonderful: every note is not only given its due value, but it is played and sculpted lovingly and idiomatically. Solos are superb and the ensemble could not be better. Tempi are, in my opinion, ideal. The first movement is assertive and full of unresolved tensions, the Andante quasi allegretto sustained by "romantic" longing and nostalgia, the Scherzo incisive with plenty of sharp edges, but elegant as well, the Finale a grandiose resolution in every respect. Welser-Möst is one of the few conductors who are fully aware of Bruckner's proto-modernist elements - often particularly audible as a "subtext" in the secondary voices - and he highlights them. This is a great Fourth that will stand the test of time and captivate you anew every time. Enough said, I want to listen to it again...
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Welser-Most has been supported by a major Upper Austrian bank for over 25 years now as a cultural envoy. This level of support suggests that Welser-Most has something special to offer in terms of Austrian music especially. In particular, Welser-Most has a passion for Bruckner that translates into meticulous orchestral preparation followed by performances of remarkable detail that manage to still come alive musically. These general observations apply to this new recording.

This recording is a performance of the 1888 version of this symphony in the new performing edition by Benjamin Korstvedt. The result is a performance of considerable splendour. The description of 'Cathedrals in sound' is easy to comprehend here, especially in the splendid setting of St. Florian in Austria. There are other versions of the symphony which may be more familiar but Welser-Most believes this new edition of the 1888 version is now the best.

I have grown to like this edition and interpretation very much indeed over several viewings. As with his previous recordings of Bruckner, Welser-Most's performance displays a typically very clear and long-term view of structure held under tight control but driven by a deeply held conviction. The climaxes are massive but this is balanced by considerable moments of delicacy, almost down to a whisper. There are times when woodwind lines are almost played like solo lines in a piece of chamber music. The orchestra is well able to deliver at this level.

The concert is well recorded by Brian Large and presented in DTS 5.1 surround and stereo sound formats. The sound in its DTS format is particularly spectacular in effect. The camera work is detailed without being invasive and is typical of the knowledgeable and sympathetic direction by Brian Large. The imaging is especially crisp and of good colour definition.

This seems to me to be a very fine entry in what is building to be a very significant series with a very personal and justifiable choice of editions. The standard of music making is of a consistently high calibre as is the recording quality. Welser-Most himself is clearly dedicated to his task and I would therefore suggest that this will give purchasers much pleasure and food for thought.
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on 12 June 2013
I am not qualified to report on the different versions of Bruckner's symphonies but as a Blu-ray performance this is in every way quite wonderful. Beautifully played and recorded with spectacular picture, camera work and sound, it is truly a demonstration Blu-ray disc.
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on 17 July 2013
Wonderful, perfect Bruckner, beautifully played in lovely surroundings. Fautless! If you enjoy Bruckner then you will definitely love this disc.
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on 23 November 2015
I purchased this DVD after reading the other 5-star reviews. It is hard to believe they are talking about the same performance. Very disappointed with this reading of Bruckner's lovely 4th Symphony. All the excitement and fun was ironed out leaving a bland run through the notes. I've loved this work for 40 years and will not be watching the DVD again. If you enjoy a Karajan or a Rattle performance do not get this one.
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on 17 June 2016
I love it
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