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Steven Kruger
Fanfare, January 2013

An exercise in absolute beauty. One of many fascinating things about this DVD and its fine notes is the half-hour interview it contains with Sergiu Celibidache, in which he lays out a philosophy of music deeply influenced by Leibniz.

The performance here, recorded appealingly in the Herkulessaal, lasts a full evening and is precisely such fodder for thought. This is the most ethereal and floaty Bruckner Fourth I have ever heard. Just the opening tremolo alone reveals so much careful transparency as it so profoundly emerges from silence, that one is nearly made a metaphysical seeker in spite of oneself. The essence of the approach is feather light but deeply extended string arcs, reduced timpani aggression, remarkable tuning, and a deft and rather French approach to brass—all of this held beautifully over an incredibly long span. The horns, critical in this piece, are gorgeous…Indeed the whole symphony is conducted for delicacy…There is none of that typical Brucknerian feeling of being stuck in front of an aggressive public address system. Celibidache is certainly right about one thing: If you slow down Bruckner enough and round every corner as if it were Mozart, the roughness can be taken out of the music. Such a performance is infinitely more beautiful than the usual slow renditions, which tend to be just as coarse and aggressive as the brisk ones. No peasants clump and dance in this performance! And the finale never blares!

This is now by far my favorite Bruckner Fourth. The reason is simple: no ugly moments. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

Rob Cowan
Gramophone, October 2012

The videoed evidence is impressive: take a glance at [Celibidache’s] ecstatic facial expressions during the sensitively phrased Trio of the Fourth Symphony’s Scherzo and you do indeed gain the impression of someone enjoying a profound sense of inner freedom. Tempo-wise, this performance of the Fourth is fairly close to the one that EMI issued as part of their Munich Philharmonic/Celibidache series (there’s barely a minute between the two) and features a similarly imposing coda, which is built, step by step, as if on a sort of Giant’s Causeway that rises to a colossal peak. This is Celibidache on a roll and the interview material is at the very least interesting. © 2012 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone

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