I played the new Bruckner 4 recording this evening from Haitink and the LSO and, as I recall from a Radio 3 broadcast of the original concert last June, it is a very fine account indeed. Except...well, except that there is something indefinable missing and it's something that bugs me every time I hear a Bruckner symphony played by a British orchestra no matter how distinguished. All the notes are played and in the right order but that something that isn't there is the very essence of Bruckner that leads me to the conclusion that British orchestras don't really 'get' Bruckner.
To be sure, there are some much praised examples out there of Bruckner from British orchestras such as the Klemperer B6 and the Horenstein B8 & B9, Giulini B7, Matacic B3 among them, but, along with Gunter Wand's work with the BBCSO, they all seem too English and that the achievement has been made through the conductor stamping his authority on the players through many rehearsals. You can argue that this is the case with any composer but I think that Bruckner presents a unique phenomenom that sets him apart in this respect.
Is it the sound of a British orchestra that is incompatible with Bruckner or is it the lack of a long performing tradition?