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Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony No. 40 in G minor K550 (1788) [24.35]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

Violin Concerto in D major Op.61 (1806) [45.12]+
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Yehudi Menuhin (violin)/Lucerne Festival Orchestra+
Wilhelm Furtwängler
rec. Kunsthaus, Lucerne, 1947 (Beethoven); Musikverein, Vienna, 1949 (Mozart)
NAXOS 8.110996 [69.47]
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Naxos continues its Furtwängler commercial legacy with a famous brace of performances given two years apart. The Beethoven Violin Concerto was recorded in Lucerne in 1947 and is to be distinguished from the 1953 collaboration with Menuhin in London with the Philharmonia in 1953 and Ė for obvious reasons - the live Berlin performance given three months after this Lucerne encounter.

Unhurried, lyrical, reflective and profoundly convincing this represents one of Menuhinís most successful ascents of this Olympus. Menuhin is in fine technical form, his trills fast and pellucid, his tone multi-hued, and his artistry ever alive. He drives through the first movement cadenza with exemplary zeal. Furtwängler marshals tuttis of majestic force and vests the slow movement with prayerful expressivity. Menuhin responds through intricate shades of vibrato usage, tightening and coiling appropriately. Rather endearingly Menuhin makes a few fluffs in the finale and some of his passagework is rather smeary; this seems to have set off one of the horn players, whose bad fluff at around 5í00 was not retaken.

Furtwängler left only one commercial recording of Mozartís G minor Symphony; thereís a live VPO from 1949 and a live Berlin Philharmonic traversal from the same year given in Wiesbaden, where he preferred the version without clarinets. In this Vienna set his approach is strong though undogmatic though one senses a lack of optimum weight in the tuttis for some reason. The slow movement is slow, spun out like an operatic aria, though not in my experience superior to an inspired live Schuricht performance given in Italy during that conductorís last years.

It sounds to me that Ward Marston has added a touch of reverb to the Lucerne recording in particular. I donít have access to the Vienna original but itís possible heís added some here as well. It would account for the ambient warmth of the former, and the results are certainly pleasing.

Furtwänglerís commercial legacy wasnít huge so collectors will welcome the latest instalment with alacrity.

Jonathan Woolf



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