Magazine article Gramophone

Bruckner * Wagner: Bruckner Symphony No 4

Magazine article Gramophone

Bruckner * Wagner: Bruckner Symphony No 4

Article excerpt

Bruckner * Wagner Bruckner Symphony No 4, 'Romantic' (1878/80 version, ed Nowak) (a) Wagner Lohengrin--Prelude (b) Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Andris Nelsons DG (F) 479 7577GH (79' * DDD) Recorded live, May 2017

It's apposite that Andris Nelsons's account of Bruckner's Fourth Symphony, the second release in his cycle of the composer's symphonies, is coupled with the Prelude from Wagner's Lohengrin. It's in the symphony's slower and more contemplative passages that his performance is at its best, highlighting the influence of Wagner's music on Bruckner's symphonic language. A notable example is Nelsons's interpretation of the hushed passage at the end of the first movement exposition, the ppp playing of the first violins conveying a real sense of rapture before the transition to the development and the magical return of the opening horn call.

Nelsons's interpretation of the Andante is on the slow side, taking just over 17 minutes, but his sensitivity to dynamics and tone colour as well as his judicious use of rubato holds the attention. The playing of the violas just after fig C (3'3 4") is wonderfully sepulchral and the contribution of the principal horn elsewhere is magnificent. The result is highly atmospheric and profoundly moving. …

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