Symphony No.4 in B flat, Op.60
Serenade in D, K320 (Posthorn)
NDR Symphony Orchestra Hamburg conducted by Gunter Wand
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: February 2002
CD No: RCA 74321 89717 2
Recorded at concerts in April 2001, in Gunter Wand’s 90th year, this perhaps unlikely pairing works very well as a celebratory release for Wand’s ninetieth-birthday, which passed on 7 January.
Both are imposing accounts, the Mozart graceful and lithe, the Beethoven muscular and controlled. Attention to both works’ rhythmic profiles is punctilious, the balance between wind and strings well judged, the forthright German oboe-sound penetrating to good effect. In Mozart’s seven-movement ’Posthorn’ Serenade Wand juxtaposes leonine strength and feline grace with deftness; textures are intrinsically decorous, woodwind solos warm-hearted, the symphonic trajectory of one of Mozart’s most endearing and ambitious pieces traced with regal assurance and affectionate moulding. The Posthorn solo itself is played with confidence and a particularly attractive timbre; a sprightly finale caps a reading that in its elan and shapeliness, and most of all in its rhythmic point, is a timely reminder of this music’s many delights.
The Beethoven, erroneously described as being in B major throughout the booklet, is given a searching reading, no more so than in the slow introduction, which is less hypnotic and more purposeful than usual; the muscular ’Allegro vivace’ that grows from it enjoys virility and vivid timpani, nowhere more so than at the double-bar signalling the exposition repeat. A flowing ’Adagio’ balances stride and reflection to a nicety, the scherzo is articulate as it weaves in and out of shadows – the horn flourish closing this movement is now of four notes rather than three; Wand aware of the latest scholarship perhaps – and the finale scampers joyfully to complete a trenchant and mellifluous performance.
Throughout both pieces the bass line is firm, cross-rhythms are secure, woodwind solos are expressive, and dynamic contrasts and curves speak of music-making carefully considered and rehearsed. The clean, well-balanced recording complements a handsome release to mark Wand’s continuing longevity and creativity.
- We would like to point out that this review was completed before the death of Gunther Wand, who died on 14th February 2002.