Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 4 in E flat Major Romantic (1878/1880 version) [64.31]
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg – Prelude to Act I (18) [9.12]
Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (Bruckner); Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Zubin Mehta (Wagner)
rec. Los Angeles, 1970 (Bruckner); Vienna, 1967 (Wagner)
ELOQUENCE 461 3562 [73.43]
There have been many recordings of this most popular of
Bruckner’s symphonies by a host of renowned conductors over the
years including Furtwängler, Karajan and Bruno Walter. Among these countless
recordings, of which the touchstone by all accounts seems to be the
splendid 1973 Karl Böhm Decca 466 3742 album, we should not forget two
celebrated modern recordings: Gunter Wänd’s from 2000 on RCA and Lorin Maazel’s on BR Klassik which, incidentally includes
all Bruckner’s other symphonies.
This 1966 Zubin Mehta recording (in the Nowak edition of 1878-80) may
be outshone but it was popular when it was released back in 1971. It
is well worth considering for its sheer power and extrovert bravado
- one contemporary commentator went so far as to suggest that Mehta’s
reading sounded much like Wagner. Whatever … at some of the attractive
prices offered for this reissue CD on the internet, I suggest it is
a worthy introduction to this symphony - and to Bruckner - for newcomers
to the music. The superbly detailed and bright recording is a tribute
to the Decca engineers. The brass is extraordinarily vivid and punchy.
They sing out lustily in the opening movement in respect of which Bruckner
suggested that it evoked “a castle at dawn with trumpet calls
… signalling the opening of the gates and knights riding out”.
Mehta makes the popular Scherzo immediately thrilling too, with his
gradually approaching ‘hunting’ horn calls. The melancholy
beautiful second movement and the heroic yet troubled Finale with its
immense blazing climax are also well realised.
Wagner’s Die Meistersinger Act I Prelude also gets the
full face-on treatment by Mehta although the quieter middle section
seems to sag a little.
I have to say that the scanty four page booklet notes are of minimal
help but there is plenty of detailed resource on the internet these