I have owned recordings of the 1874 version of the Bruckner 4th without paying much attention to them, but this one from Elihu Inbal is riveting. He leads his Frankfurt orchestra with complete conviciton, resulting in a headlong, spontaneous reading that I couldn't tear myself away from Dating from 1983, this CD lays claim to being the world premiere recordiing. For that era it has excellent sound, showing only a touch of digital glare.
The reason that the original verison of Bruckner's most popular symphony had to wait until the Eighties to be recorded is that critical consensus overwhelmingly favors the rewrite of 1880, which added a completley new Scherzo (the so-called hunting horn scherzo due to its first theme) along with extenwsive changes in the other three movements. They wre highly sucessful changes, to the extent that the 1874 vanished from sight, having acquired a reputation for crudeness and lack of finish in its symphonic structure. Just last month I read a review in The Gramophone that dismissed this version outright and beneath consideration.
So be it, but Inbal shows that there's a real symphony here, not just a rough draft. Bruckner's rhythms are simpler, the joins between themes abrupt, the overall impression rough and rustic compared to the 1880 text. But the real advantage here is Inbla's enthusiasm; he makes us believe in every bar. At its new bargainprice, I hope this CD gains new adherents--I enjoyed it immensely.