Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 (Romantic)

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WORKS: Symphony No. 4 (Romantic)
PERFORMER: London PO/Klaus Tennstedt
Bruckner’s Fourth opens magically,


with tremolo strings and then the

exquisite horn call. But it is an

episodic work, and ever more so

as it proceeds; its last movement

hardly has pretensions to coherence,

beautiful lyrical themes alternating

with hob-nail-booted brass rhetoric.

The conductor of the Fourth needs

to decide whether to play it for the

enchantment of the moment, giving

as much intensity as he can to each

episode, as does Wand; or whether

to take the long view, and elicit an

overall structure, so far as that is

possible, as does Tennstedt in this

live performance from 1989.

Tennstedt’s tempos are very broad

in all movements except the third,

the scherzo, with the overall timing

about ten minutes longer than the

average, and five minutes longer

than renowned slowcoaches. I found

that approaching it in very relaxed

mood, and with no sense of urgency,

it was one of the greatest accounts

of the work that I have heard. The

LPO is on magnificent form, the

horns especially covering themselves

in glory the whole way through,

though they are often very exposed.

Tennstedt’s fervent love of every

note transmits itself to the listener,

and when Bruckner does pull things

together in the last minutes the effect


is sublime. Michael Tanner