The two pieces on the CD are taken from a live performance in May 2017 from the Gewandhaus. The Bruckner 4 is the 1878/80 Nowak edition. The orchestral playing in very fine indeed. In the Bruckner you can hear all the layers of sound (mine CDs are played on Quod Artera CD and Amp and Quad S4 speakers.) The sound has great depth and I could not hear any audience noise but my hearing isn't quite 100% these days.....
My problem with Nelsons is that he has an inclination to occasionally pull tempi around which happens once or twice in the Bruckner is the first and last movements and just after the climax in the second. He also lengthens slightly the second note of the of the opening theme and clip the very short note that follows, but I am used to Celibidache so maybe I am being slightly harsh. Those points apart I really enjoyed this performance and will often return to it. The woodwind and brass are wonderful, they produce a lovely rich and rounded sound that is in my view right for this music. Plenty of colour in the strings. No scrawny playing in that department.the performance is well rounded and avoids the "blocks of sound" trap that conductors can easily fall into. There is a good flow to the performance.
The Lohengrin has great depth of feeling and a lovely even sweep to it, it is taken at a comfortable tempo.
I don't think much of the photographs of Nelsons in what looks like an old suit and leaning against a railing in a car park, the notes are OK but nothing striking or original. But those are small quibbles in what is a lovely disc. Applause has been edited out.
There’s a fine line between theism and pantheism; Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony has a foot in each camp. That means that danger, majesty and a sense of Otherness are prerequisites to any performance. Without a vision, the conductor perishes. Happily, Nelsons is healthy at the end of this concert. If I take Karajan out of frame, I cannot fault this B4 to any major degree. It’s thrilling. As my fellow reviewer HH states so eloquently, the art of interpreting Bruckner is not extinct. For all its merits, this B4 could be a transitional reading from a youngish conductor. Provided he avoids the Shostakovich Swamp and other wastelands, imagine the harvest in decades to come!
Above all, Nelsons has grip aplenty; nothing is episodic; a pulse is evident throughout and he saves his ordnance for climaxes, not fire-fights. That being said, it could be argued that the slow movement is a tad self-conscious of the need to be subtle in the lead-up to the moment of detonation: after all, third gear has its place in Bruckner. Nor does Nelsons quite possess Karajan’s gift of infinitesimal delays at transitions (such as 1’20” and 2’27” in the finale). That will come in time. One slight crudity aside (at 10’42” in the finale), the Gewandhaus Orchestra plays superbly with a rich tone, even if the climax of the slow movement is not the last word in torque. As for the Lohengrin Prelude, I don’t care for Nelson’s phrasing at 4’40”ff (it’s hasty) – but the climax is a hoot.
If the One-Eyed Man is king in the Land of the Blind, Nelson’s second eye is twitching open. Now, let’s see what he can do with the Causeway of the Giants – the B5!