Lynn René Bayley
, September 2010
Günter Wand rose to prominence at the unlikely age of 60, in 1972, when he first conducted Schubert’s “Great” C-Major symphony. This led to recordings, not only of that work but of a complete Schubert cycle, which he completed in 1981. Concurrent with his critically acclaimed Schubert, he became a recognized master of the symphonies of Bruckner.
At the time, Wand’s Schubert was indeed revelatory as he harked back to an era when conductors such as Erich Kleiber, Fritz Busch, Guido Cantelli, and Arturo Toscanini were giving taut and often quite exciting performances of the Eighth and Ninth symphonies quite at odds with the more flaccid later readings of Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan. His Bruckner was probably even more revelatory, however, as at that time only a few of Wilhelm Furtwängler’s superb performances of that composer’s works were available on domestic releases, and of later conductors only Rudolf Kempe conducted Bruckner as well, and his recorded Bruckner legacy was both lean and sporadic (plus, Kempe died quite suddenly in 1976).
These live performances by the then-83-year-old Wand are just as clean, clear, and well proportioned as his earlier recorded cycle...If, however, you are a Günter Wand fan, you’ll want this disc.