Composer: Anton Bruckner
Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Hans Knappertsbusch
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Size: 175 MB
Symphony No. 4 in E flat (“Romantic”), WAB 104 (various versions)
Composed by Anton Bruckner
Performed by Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch
This famous September 1944 performance is a better testament to Kna, Bruckner-wise, than the wretched B5 on Decca. It’s a stunning performance, from the cracked horn-call at its commencement to the pantocratic encounter in the finale. Kna was notorious for eschewing rehearsals; here, he and the Berlin Phil are like-minded and sure-of-foot. This is Bruckner at his most numinous. It’s a vision of the primeval powers that are sovereign in the heart of the forest – but not in any easygoing ‘pastoral’ sense: one is reminded of Gilgamesh’s journey to confront the majesty of the Humbaba ‘where the cedars grow and crowd out the sky’. Zeitgeist weighs heavily on this recording: Germany is befalling Judgement. Nothing will be forgiven.
Be warned: this Fourth has been Schalk-ized: the coda to the finale, for instance, is not from the hands of the Master. ‘Wagnerian’ tinkering is evident throughout. Even so, one’s interest is piqued.
The mono sound is acceptable enough and has presence and depth. It is a Fourth whose greatness is incontestable.