Friday, January 24, 2014

Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 "Romantic" - Järvi
John Proffitt
Paavo Järvi continues his ongoing complete cycle of the Bruckner symphonies with one of the most popular works, the Romantic Symphony No. 4 in E-flat. Like the earlier installments of his series (Symphonies 5, 7 and 9), the excellent Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra is in top form, exhibiting its burnished, bottom-up orchestral tone captured in superb 5-channel surround sound. Interestingly, the FRSO with Järvi is now embarking on its second Bruckner symphony cycle (the first having been with Eliahu Inbal for Teldec), a distinction shared with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra with its two single-conductor cycles, those with Kurt Masur and Herbert Blomstedt and the Berlin Philharmonic with its two single-conductor cycles, those with Herbert von Karajan and Daniel Barenboim. Järvi's accomplishment so far measures up well when compared to any of those "double-dippers."

Järvi is what I would describe as a "natural" Brucknerian: straightforward interpretations, dramatic when called for and meltingly lyric as appropriate -- and few, if any, tempo or phrasing idiosyncrasies. His performing edition is the Nowak 1878-80, with the addition of the cymbal crash in the Finale taken from the first published edition, an intervention also found in recordings by Jochum and Eschenbach. I personally find this a nice touch, but it may bother some. This definitely becomes one of my most favored recordings of Bruckner's Fourth, ranking up there with Karl Böhm (Vienna Philharmonic), Herbert Blomstedt (Leipzig Gewandhaus) and Bruno Walter (Columbia Symphony).

This latest installment of Järvi's cycle from Sony/BMG is at present (January 2014) an expensive Japan import; however, just as was the case with symphonies 5, 7 and 9, the price will drop to customary domestic ranges when Sony finally adds this volume to its regular US, UK and EU distribution.

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