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In November 1981 Herbert von Karajan allowed Tennstedt to deputise for him. Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony was replaced by the Eighth; this would easily have filled the evening on its own, but the planned opening piece, Bach’s E major Violin Concerto, was kept in the programme. Sybill Mahlke commented in the Tagesspiegel that "the opening with Bach was not without charm; the soloist was the orchestra’s leader, Thomas Brandis, whose gently polished playing formed an eloquent musical voice in complete accord with the orchestral accompaniment." In the opinion of Hans-Jörg von Jena (critic of the Volksblatt) the Bruckner performance was "less solemn, less calm, but more colourful than usual". Tennstedt had achieved a paradoxical combination of ecstasy and relaxation. "He makes his mark with great emotional vivacity in crescendos and build-ups, stresses the accents and sforzati; the Wagnerian element in Bruckner, for instance in the Wotan-subject of the Adagio, is revealed afresh." In the Tagesspiegel, Sybill Mahlke commented that Tennstedt had now firmly taken his place among the international élite of conductors: "his quavering beat, never quite guaranteeing total unity in the strings, evinces a full-bodied expressiveness... In many places there are tonal and rhythmical features in this interpretation which are hardly ever heard – sensational interaction of wind and harpaccompanied strings in the Adagio, elemental stressing of underlying rhythm in the Finale, yet also subtly subdued piano passages."