One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 4 in E flat major Romantic (1874)
Philharmonia Orchestra/Christoph von Dohnányi
rec. 30 October 2008, Royal Festival Hall, London

Experience Classicsonline

Where do I start? That’s the question I hear most from listeners keen to explore the symphonies of Anton Bruckner. Invariably I suggest the Fourth, as it addresses many of the structural uncertainties of his earlier ones and heralds the scale and sweep of the Fifth and beyond. The Romantic has been well served on record. Karl Böhm’s classic Vienna account for Decca is regarded as one of the finest in the catalogue. Then there’s Eugen Jochum, whose various cycles for EMI and DG are also held in high esteem. Rather more recently - in 1998 - another respected Brucknerian, Günter Wand, recorded a live Fourth with the Berliner Philharmoniker that quickly became my benchmark for this work (RCA Red Seal).
Many conductors, from Furtwängler to Harnoncourt, have brought something new to this music, but few have done so with the authority and insight of our triumvirate. I was pleased to return to all three, starting with Jochum’s Berlin version. Recorded in 1967, the sound isn’t as rich and incisive as I’d remembered; nor is the reading as lofty and coherent as I’d once thought. Even the Berliners aren’t as polished as they are for Wand. Jochum’s structures are more craggy than monumental. Switch to the Böhm - recorded in 1973 - and those fabled Viennese horns make an unforgettable impact. Also, the music is unerringly shaped and steered in a way that even Jochum can’t quite manage.
Then there’s Wand, whose aristocratic manner is matched by equally patrician playing from the Berliner Philharmoniker. As for the RCA recording it ensures those big. striding tuttis are accommodated with ease. The whole structure is built with supreme confidence and bathed in a splendid glow. Indeed, hearing this performance makes one remember why devotees fall to their knees at these mighty altars. It also serves as a reminder of just what Dohnányi and his orchestra are up against. Then again the Philharmonia are no strangers to this composer. Their Bruckner Sixth with Klemperer (EMI) was one of the glories of the gramophone, although it does show its age on CD.
Dohnányi’s performance doesn’t start too well. There’s some less than secure horn playing, and although the first movement has plenty of weight it’s also unremittingly dull. True, there’s a distinct pulse here, but it flutters, and those misted moments lack the looming majesty one gets with Böhm and Wand. In some ways Dohnányi’s reading reminds me of Jochum’s, in that it tends to fixate on the moment at the expense of the whole hour. As a result one gets very little sense of the long cross-beams on which the work is so carefully built.
The Philharmonia certainly aren’t having a good night and even though there’s some brilliance to their playing it all sounds rather tentative. Tempo relationships, so important in Bruckner, are also ill-judged with Dohnányi sprinting for the finish line. As if that weren't frustrating enough, the lilting Andante is ruined by dragging tempi and a sickly pallor. Really, I can’t recall a more leaden response to this lovely music. As for the recording it’s reasonably detailed and immediate. The hunting scherzo blazes with unaccustomed energy and conviction.
Sadly it doesn’t last. Moments of hot pursuit are followed by aimless wanderings. A sharp tug on the reins and the finale takes off at quite a lick. Now that’s more like it, but then momentum flags as suddenly as it began. By contrast Böhm and Wand strike a good balance between weight and propulsion, just one of many challenges in these symphonies. There’s too much of the latter in this case, resulting in ragged, overdriven climaxes. Even allowing for the imprecisions of a live performance the playing is extremely variable.
Anyone familiar with those classic Fourths - yes, even the Jochum - will find little or nothing to inspire them here. Dohnányi has done a few memorable recordings - of Mendelssohn and Dvořák especially - but otherwise I find him all too earthbound. And that’s not what one wants in Bruckner.
Not an epiphany in sight; one for the charity shop.
Dan Morgan

Masterwork Index: Symphony 4























































































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.