Day 21: Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major (Inbal)

This morning, I am listening to Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major (WAB 104), nicknamed “Romantic,” interpreted by Israeli conductor Eliahu Inbal (1936-).

I heard Maestro Inbal on three previous days:

On Day 14, Symphony No. 3.

And on Day 8, Symphony No. 2.

And again on Day 3, Symphony No. 1

Here are the objective stats about today’s performance:

Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major (WAB 104), composed 1873-1874
Eliahu Inbal conducts
Inbal used the “First Version” (whatever that means), according to the back of the CD sleeve
Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt plays
The symphony clocks in at 68:17
This was recorded in Frankfurt, Germany, in September of 1982
Inbal was 46 when he conducted it
Bruckner was 49 when he finished composing it (the first time)
This recording was released on the Warner Classics & Jazz label/Teldec Classics label

Bruckner wrote his symphonies in four movements. The time breakdown of this one (Symphony No. 4 in E Flat Major), from this particular conductor (Inbal) and this particular orchestra (Frankfurt Radio Symphony) is as follows:

I. Bewegt, nicht zu schnell……………………………………………………………………19:54
II. Andante, quasi allegretto…………………………………………………………………18:28
III. Scherzo. Bewegt (With motion) – Trio: Nicht zu schnell (Not too fast)……………………………………………………………………………………………………….12:45
IV. Finale: Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell (With motion, but not too fast)……………………………………………………………………………………………………….18:53

Total running time: 68:17

Here are the subjective aspects:

My Rating:
Recording quality: 4
Overall musicianship: 4
CD liner notes: 3 (very thin booklet, sparse essay about Bruckner translated into English, German, and French; no information at all about Eliahu Inbal)
How does this make me feel: 2

There’s something very dis-engaging about this performance. It feels closed off. Like I’m not part of it, and the orchestra doesn’t care if I am or not.

Very smooth tones from the French horns in the first movement. That’s always (or, at least, usually) a good sign. If a recording features a very smooth French horn, recorded well, then I anticipate a good performance. That’s not the case here.

The Adagio bores me to tears. And even the Scherzo can’t arouse me, get me to care. And I won’t even go into why the Finale doesn’t do it for me.

It’s all very meandering, rudderless.

I don’t know what it is about this performance. But it’s D.O.A.

I can’t recommend Inbal’s interpretation of Bruckner’s Fourth.

Hell, I don’t even want to hear it again myself.

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