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Discussion: Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 - Furtwängler

Posts: 13
Page: 1 2 next

Post by tream May 23, 2008 (1 of 13)
OK, I cheated. I'm the first to not recommend this SACD. I don't own the SACD - but I have the CD performance of this 9th, I have the GCOTC 9th (from '39 if I remember) and I once owned the Bayreuth 9th LP's. So.....while I find Furtwangler's way with the 9th somewhat less....well, I'm looking for another word than offensive, but I truly find his way with Beethoven to be all about him and not about Beethoven. In my view - Furtwangler was a frustrated composer who decided the way to self expression was to "recompose" Beethoven's music, which means that you can hear him standing between the listener and the music, something I personally don't care for, and I think Beethoven was a greater composer than Furtwangler ever could be. Furtwangler was supposedly a master of "improvised" performances, but the three 9ths I have heard are of a piece, suggesting to me that the "improvisations" were carefully thought out and rehearsed.

I have gotten great pleasure from Beethoven conducted by musicians as diverse as Walter, Szell, Toscanini, Stokowski, Vanska, Karajan, Masur, Blomstedt, Klemperer, Thomas, Jochum, Reiner, Haitink, and others, but I view Furtwangler's way with Beethoven to be a travesty. Others will disagree, possibly vehemently so. So be it.

Post by sunnydaler May 23, 2008 (2 of 13)
Furtwangler's Beethoven is a curio. I'm sure most of 21th century people won't find it attractive or listenable.
I don't want to spend my time on adapting my ears to his Beethoven when I have others;Kleiber, Klemperer, Abbado....

Post by ramesh May 24, 2008 (3 of 13)
I have five separate performances of his Beethoven 9 on CDs at the moment, including the earlier Tahra remastering of this. I'll review this SACD when I get it, with comparisons to all the versions I own.

Post by Peter May 24, 2008 (4 of 13)
Tream, I am surprised you've clicked not recommended, though at least you've had the grace to explain why. May I ask when last you listened to it?

Here's the alternative opinion (quite vehement):

Having heard this performance on Tahra CD, I'm at a loss to understand how WF's reading is considered a travesty and find his performances a search for truth in every composer's works he conducted. They are very much thought through yet in most cases sound spontaneous, I don't find he stands between me and the compser at all. Don't write WF off if you haven't heard him. Of course, those expecting modern comfortable (surround) sound will be disappointed, though this Lucerne performance was well recorded for the time.

Those interested may find joining this worthwhile. I did.

http://www.furtwangler.org/

By the way, hot discussion about WF vs AT has been going on for nearly a century, each being accused of travesty, one the romantic distorter, the other the Italian bandmaster. I have recordings by both (it is allowed, I hope), and I suspect the same WF ones of the Ninth Ramesh has, and would recommend highly two new really very well mastered Music and Arts boxes - Toscanini's Beethoven cycle from 1939, and a selection of WF's Bruckner recordings including the coruscating 9th from 1944.

I'm not sure WF was a frustrated composer - whether he was a good one or not is another matter. His compositions are interesting but I don't think I'd pack them for an enforced stay on a desert island.

Post by flyingdutchman May 24, 2008 (5 of 13)
sunnydaler said:

Furtwangler's Beethoven is a curio. I'm sure most of 21th century people won't find it attractive or listenable.
I don't want to spend my time on adapting my ears to his Beethoven when I have others;Kleiber, Klemperer, Abbado....

You are wrong. 21st century people do find it attractice and listenable. I am amazed at how dismissive you are to some of the finest music of classical music's past.

Post by tream May 24, 2008 (6 of 13)
Peter said:

Tream, I am surprised you've clicked not recommended, though at least you've had the grace to explain why. May I ask when last you listened to it?

Here's the alternative opinion (quite vehement):

Having heard this performance on Tahra CD, I'm at a loss to understand how WF's reading is considered a travesty and find his performances a search for truth in every composer's works he conducted. They are very much thought through yet in most cases sound spontaneous, I don't find he stands between me and the compser at all. Don't write WF off if you haven't heard him. Of course, those expecting modern comfortable (surround) sound will be disappointed, though this Lucerne performance was well recorded for the time.

Those interested may find joining this worthwhile. I did.

http://www.furtwangler.org/

By the way, hot discussion about WF vs AT has been going on for nearly a century, each being accused of travesty, one the romantic distorter, the other the Italian bandmaster. I have recordings by both (it is allowed, I hope), and I suspect the same WF ones of the Ninth Ramesh has, and would recommend highly two new really very well mastered Music and Arts boxes - Toscanini's Beethoven cycle from 1939, and a selection of WF's Bruckner recordings including the coruscating 9th from 1944.

I'm not sure WF was a frustrated composer - whether he was a good one or not is another matter. His compositions are interesting but I don't think I'd pack them for an enforced stay on a desert island.

Peter, as I mentioned I have heard 3 performances of the 9th, the most recent about a year ago (the GROTC set, which also included the 3rd and 5th). I have the Tahra CD as well, which I heard within the last 18 months. Haven't heard the Bayreuth recording in a long time. I know that others disagree, but I stand by the word travesty. I find his Eroica even worse. I am not alone in my views, although I know that many venerate his Beethoven.

Post by Peter May 24, 2008 (7 of 13)
tream said:

Peter, as I mentioned I have heard 3 performances of the 9th, the most recent about a year ago (the GROTC set, which also included the 3rd and 5th). I have the Tahra CD as well, which I heard within the last 18 months. Haven't heard the Bayreuth recording in a long time. I know that others disagree, but I stand by the word travesty. I find his Eroica even worse. I am not alone in my views, although I know that many venerate his Beethoven.

Life would be very tedious if we all the same tastes......

Post by Oscar May 25, 2008 (8 of 13)
For me it is very clear: technology at the service of art.

Many in this Forum expect only spectacular sonics from SACD... not me, I will prefer a great performance any day. In fact, not many "new" SACD´s are artistically up to speed, and that is why we go to the great artists of the past. And Furtwaengler is certainly one of them... , we do not need even to discuss this issue: the proof is there, iin his legacy, for anyone to check (in good-faith, though)...

Post by Naun May 26, 2008 (9 of 13)
Furtwangler is indeed a controversial figure, but it should be pointed out that he is greatly admired by a huge number of practising musicians, including many of those on the OP's list of "acceptable" Beethoven conductors. Here's the pianist Alfred Brendel on Furtwangler:

"If Furtwangler had not existed, we would have had to invent him. He was the conductor under whose guidance a piece of music emerged as something complete, alive in all its layers, every detail justified by its breathing relevance to the whole ... The sounds [he] produced could be of an elemental intensity that I have not experienced since."

If you haven't heard any of Furtwangler's recordings, I would strongly urge you to give them a try. This recording, one of his most highly regarded, is as good a place to start as any.

I'm very happy to see this recording released on SACD. To my ears older recordings benefit a lot from good hi-rez transfers, and I think it's a pity that so few mono recordings have been reissued on SACD. Tahra has an excellent reputation for its CD transfers and I have high hopes for this release.

Post by jdaniel May 31, 2008 (10 of 13)
This is stunning. I'm a recent convert to Furtwangler, (his EMI Tristan on a beautiful-sounding tubed UK Lp pressing), and a recent convert to mono. Mono is obviously not stereo, or surround, but I'm astonished and appreciative of what was accomplished and captured by the engineers. To be able to purchase these historic recordings in higher-resolution sound--Furt's Brahms, Beethoven, Wagner...I'm all over it.

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