After the excellence
of Wand's Bruckner
Four in Lübeck Cathedral, expectations were high for this
Seventh from the concert hall of the same city. In the event,
it is if anything even better.
needs no introduction, and all of his characteristic traits
are here in abundance: the attention to detail, the integrity
of the structural hearing, the supreme dedication of his performers.
The acoustic of the concert hall fits Wand's conception - or
maybe he just judges it perfectly. There is not a hint of dryness.
Just the opposite – the warmth of the strings seems to be emphasised.
At the opening,
the screen whites out over the string tremolandi - not a device
that grew on me with time! Wand conducts with his trademark
empty music-stand. His gestures are fairly minimal, so that
he hardly needs to move to invoke full-blooded fortes. The pace
is brisk but nevertheless unhurried. One is never once in doubt
as to Wand's grasp of the score, yet the individual moment is
duly honoured - try the lovely sound of the cellos and basses
around 9:44. A camera shot from behind the orchestra around
6:50 shows the size of hall and audience.
I don't remember
the timpani roll at 19:20 being quite as pronounced in his previous
readings. From his gestures, Wand thinks it is too much, too!.
Maybe this is just an over-enthusiastic timpanist. Nevertheless,
the close-up of Wand's face, wrapped in concentration, just
before the movement's final build-up, is worth the price of
the DVD alone!
The opening of the
famous second movement is exquisitely balanced. Dark and brooding
yet at the same time prayer-like, this is the beginning of a
glorious interpretation. The tempo is not adagio molto –
it does move – and the transition to the Moderato is
perfectly judged. The gradual soft-focusing of the horn at this
point is rather superfluous, though. The cymbal-free climax
gains in stature for the omission, leading to positively glowing
Wagner tubas in the coda.
Much rehearsal must
surely have been spent getting the strings so spot-on at the
opening of the Scherzo. There is huge energy here. The Trio
contrasts by presenting a bath of sound.
The finale contains
more sharply differentiated moods than I had expected in its
opening section. Wand guides the listener through the movement's
shifts expertly, timing the growth of the final pages to perfection.
Again, as was the case with the Fourth, there is silence from
the audience after the final peroration, a measure perhaps of
the impact of the occasion.
to all Brucknerians. This DVD cycle is a lasting monument to
one of the great Bruckner conductors.