Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 in E flat (Romantic)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Symphony No. 4 in E flat (Romantic)
PERFORMER: San Francisco Symphony/Herbert Blomstedt
The ascetic Swede Herbert Blomstedt, no PR man’s dream, has quietly forged a considerable career for himself over the years, not least with the San Francisco Symphony for the past ten. This account of Bruckner’s Fourth in the revised 1880 version (Haas edition with slight revisions made for the 1886 American premiere) is a notable one. The opening string shimmer is gripping, the horn solo excellent. Apart from a brisk Scherzo Blomstedt’s tempi are safe, with detail evidently much in his mind. Although the string portamenti may not appeal to all there is exemplary individual playing and the Davies Symphony Hall has a splendid recording acoustic. So too has the Musikhalle in Hamburg where Wand’s live recording of the monumental Eighth was made. His interpretation is revelatory, his grasp of Brucknerian structure, tone colour and orchestral balance quite astonishing. Wand at 83 has amazing energy and can produce such sheer power from an orchestra that many a younger podium virtuoso could learn from him. Christopher Fifield