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A great level of history dies with Gunter Wand
Wed Mar 6 2002 02:15
Hello everyone:

I'm still very upset about the loss on Feb 14th of the great conductor Gunter Wand. While he may not be known to many, he is to fans of Bruckner.

As a young person, I've tried many North American composers whom I was told I'd love, but ended up back in locals like Austria, Germany, and England. Gunter Wand, both with his NDR Symphony, and the famous Berlin Phil managed to find a very special sound and musical experience unmatched by anyone.

Can anyone share their thoughts about Gunter Wand?

Julian Benedict
re: A great level of history dies with Gunter Wand disclover
Mon Mar 11 2002 16:09
Gunter Wand's career is reminiscent of Otto Klemperer's and Bruno Walter's. All three conductors were taken for granted in mainstream repertoire until their more celebrated colleagues died. With no one left, their interpretations were finally recognized. Wand's recording career went from the Cologne Guerzenich Orch on minor labels to the Cologne Radio (WDR) Orch on Harmonia Mundi to the Hamburg Radio (NDR) Orch on the same label. When BMG bought Deutsche Harmonia Mundi in the late 1980s, Wand's catalogue was moved to the RCA label. His complete Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Bruckner symphonies were reissued in boxed sets. (I'd have to do a little research for this point, but I think some of the Cologne sets were recorded again in Hamburg.) In recent years RCA made new recordings of old favorites with the Berlin PO. Henry Fogel sought him out for his American debut with the Chicago SO, where RCA recorded the Brahms First again. The BPO set of Schubert's Unfinished and Great C Major (two discs for the price of one because they found the tempos didn't fit on a single disc) and Bruckner's 4, 5 and 9 are not even listed as currently available here, though they are in Europe. There is also a Schubert Great C Major with the Deutsches Sinnfonie-Orchester Berlin (originally the RIAS SO) issued privately by the orchestra from a 1993 concert, midway between the Hamburg and BPO recordings. By the way, now that Wand is gone, try Stanislaw Skrowaczewski's complete Bruckner on the budget Arte Nova label (a boxed set including the two early symphonies). The conductor, orchestral playing and hall acoustics are all phenomenal.
re: A great level of history dies with Gunter Wand pogorelichfan
Mon Mar 11 2002 16:27
Thank your for the thoughts. I actually have his Symphony 00, which is of course excellent, not to mention a budget label, which is even nicer!

I realize that the music media tend to put Wand in the same catagory as Klemperer and Walter, but do see Wand's Bruckner work as very different and much more inspriational. Granted, their influences may be similar, but the end product is very different. Perhaps its the orchestras involved, I don't know.

Here's an example: Walter did a recording of Bruckner No 9 on Sony, which received a rosette from Penquin and is supposed to be "the best" recording. I found it way too slow. Otto's Beethoven is pompous(sp?) and overblown. Yet Wand seemed to have an unexplained "link" to these great composers. His Bruckner, dark, booming, costic, in Sym 9, yet flowing, dreamy, and sentual in Sym 8. His 80's Brahms is towering, and strong. With my very basic classical education, I've listened to these masters and found the end result to be this.

Wand's view seems to be, I will play this as the music wishes, pulling from my influences only to interpret as the composer would want, not with any other motivations.....he truly was a master in my mind.
re: A great level of history dies with Gunter Wand mcdade
Mon Mar 18 2002 15:53
Wand's death is a double source of regret for me since, despite my best efforts, I never got to hear him live. Two concerts for which I had tickets were cancelled due to ill health and I was prevented from hearing his last Prom here in London by the pleasant obstacle of the birth of my daughter (!). Whilst I don't always agree with his view of Bruckner (eg I have never cared for his 8th) he was always an enthralling musician who made you think about the music more deeply, challenging one's preconceptions. He was never a flash or a fashionable musician but if you listen to him he had so much more to say in one phrase than a lot of other conductors do in the entire careers.

(As an aside one of the cancelled concerts I mentioned above was taken by Skrowaczewski and it was horrid! I have since heard good things about his Arte Nova set but have been put off by this live event)

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