I was prompted to hear this recording after reading so many glowing reviews
by mycolleagues. Is it as good as they say it is? Yes, it is! Tintner's
dedication and scrupulously meticulous attention to Bruckner's enormous,
monumental score is clearly evident in every bar.
Tintner's Bruckner scholarship deeply impresses too, as his CD booklet notes
reveal. How many other conductors will insist on this level of commitment?
Tintner is exemplary in his pacing, phrasing and shading, carefully controlled
crescendos - beginning softly and working slowly, inevitably but unhurriedly
forwards - and in his terracing of the great majestic climaxes to achieve
the maximum impact that Bruckner surely desired. The misty, hushed strings
opening of the first movement with its horn calls and answering woodwinds
is magical. Just listen to how seamlessly yet powerfully Tintner shapes this
opening into the radiant main theme with its glorious fanfare decorations.
Tintner offers some fascinating interpretative insights of the detail of
this movement in his notes.
The gentle funeral march and the lovely long-spanned song for the violas
supported by the plucked notes of the other strings of the second movement
is handled with considerable finesse while the famous hunting scherzo horn
music blazes out most thrillingly. (Tintner tells us that the "... wonderful
Trio represents the hunters unpacking and eating their cheese!").
This symphony was written originally in 1874 but Bruckner radically revised
its detail in 1877-78.
In 1880 he composed yet another Finale and this is the version that is usually
played (as in this performance). As Tintner says: "It is considered by some
to be sombre for the rest of the work, but I do not share this view and think
it is the crowning glory of this wonderful symphony..." His glowing and majestic
reading, contrasting light and shade, innocent charm and strong assertive
heroics, is a strong advocate for his argument. This has to be the new benchmark
recording of Bruckner's 4th Symphony.