Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks - BRSO

Anton Bruckner: Symphony No. 4 E flat major “Romantic”

BR-KLASSIK CD 900213 Anton Bruckner: Symphonie Nr. 4 BRSO, Bernard Haitink

BR-KLASSIK releases another CD with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks under the baton of its long-time guest conductor Bernard Haitink: Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E flat major, the “Romantic”, a live recording from January 2012.

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The Dutch conductor Bernard Haitink and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks were linked by a long and intensive artistic collaboration, brought to an abrupt end by his death in October 2021. BR-KLASSIK now presents outstanding and as yet unreleased live recordings of concerts from the past years. This recording of Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony documents concerts from January 2012 in Munich’s Philharmonie im Gasteig.

Haitink first conducted a Munich subscription concert in 1958, and from then on he repeatedly stood on the podium of the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks – either in the Herkulessaal of the Residenz or in the Philharmonie im Gasteig. This congenial collaboration lasted more than six decades. The orchestral musicians and singers enjoyed working with him just as much as the BR sound engineers. As an interpreter of the symphonic repertoire, and especially that of the German-Austrian late Romantic period, Haitink was held in high esteem worldwide.

It was on the borderline between High and Late Romanticism, where the style of the times was to change and finally dissolve, that Anton Bruckner once again conjured up the very essence of the Romantic attitude to life with his Fourth Symphony. It was the composer himself who gave the work its popular title “Romantic”; the name appears in much of his correspondence. This “Romantic” symphony conjures up an ideal world in bright, unbroken colours, and looks back on an intact and carefree past. The consistently relaxed and positive mood of the symphony seems all the more astonishing when one considers the complicated history of the work’s genesis. The first version of 1874, a year of professional setbacks, was rejected by Bruckner after several plans for a premiere came to nothing; with relentless self-criticism, he referred to it as “overladen” and “too restless”. In 1878 he subjected it to radical revision, in the course of which, among other things, a completely new third movement was written – the Hunting Scherzo. The other three movements were also profoundly reworked, partly shortened and formally condensed, and up to 1880 Bruckner repeatedly altered the final movement, which gradually grew into a crowning finale within the symphonic structure that would dissolve and overcome every last contradiction.

It was in this version of 1878/1880, which also forms the basis of this recording, that the Fourth Symphony was premiered on February 20, 1881 in Vienna, played by the Vienna Philharmonic under the baton of the Wagner aficionado Hans Richter. The performance was a great triumph, and marked a decisive change in the reception of Bruckner’s music. His symphonic work to date had largely met with rejection, but now, with the “Romantic”, he had made his breakthrough. As one of Bruckner’s most-performed works alongside the Seventh, the Fourth has remained just as successful to this day. Indeed, the symphony’s unbroken popularity also underscores the timeless appeal of Bruckner’s work: that deeply human longing for the “Romantic”, which has left no-one unmoved to this day.

Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks
Bernard Haitink Conductor

Total Time: 68’05 Minuten

  • Live recording from January 2012 in great sound quality
  • Documenting an acclaimed Bruckner performance in Munich, the city with a special Bruckner tradition
  • Another representative example of Bernard Haitink’s longstanding collaboration with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks