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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 days.

Ian Lace
 

 




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