First, a notable Eighth,, then an interesting Third, Now Christian Thielemann and the Vienna Philharmonic give us a compelling ‘Romantic’ Symphony (1874), recorded last August during the Salzburg Festival, using the now-standard 1878/80 version (although Bruckner continued to tinker with his self-named ‘Romantic’ during the 1880s), for which Thielemann prefers Robert Haas’s edition over the more-usual one by Leopold Nowak. (There are later publications by Korstvedt, Carragan and Cohrs: The Bruckner Problem!)

From expectant strings (leaves gently rustled) and floated horn solo to majestic conclusion, Thielemann may be expansive overall (seventy minutes) but he is not indulgent; rather he creates space to take us to magical places – forests, mountaintops – to paint pictures/suggest narratives, retreats from full-blooded tuttis (the Vienna Phil attractively leaner-sounding in the Grosses Festspielhaus than at home in the Golden Hall, strings fully evident in the balance, right-positioned second violins the equals of the firsts) yet ensuring that everything belongs.

The first movement tells stories while remaining symphonically wholesome, the slow one is a rapt nocturnal pilgrimage, profound contemplation under the stars, the Vienna musicians seemingly entranced by Thielemann’s conducting, whereas the Scherzo (newly composed to replace the 1874 original) is heraldic, the flute-led Trio (for Nowak, Bruckner also, presumably, it’s an oboe) a pastoral repose, and the Finale, of particular largesse from Thielemann, embraces grandeur, steely determination and reflection en route to an awe-struck, Celibidache-like, conclusion that is overwhelming: summit reached, glorious. Superb sound, applause removed.

Sony Classical 19439914112 (reviewed from a CD although this release is download-only in the UK).

Ateş Orga, Festival Wanderer – 3: Salzburg-Christian Thielemann-Vienna Philharmonic-Bruckner 4 [live webcast]

Rattle & LSO premiere new BG Cohrs Urtext edition of Bruckner’s Romantic.