Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.


Moravec - Twelfth Night Recital
15%off £17.21 (until Dec 7)

Katerina Englichová - harp
15%0ff £10.83 (until Dec 7)

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Sibelius Symphonies Maazel
4CDs + Blu-ray audio
Special Price £36.75

RVW A Sea Symphony - Elder

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Wilhelm Furtwängler: The Legend

CD 1 [71:06]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony no.40 in G minor, K550 (1778) [24:11]
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony no.94 in G Surprise (1791) [22:28]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony no.8 in B minor, D759 Unfinished (1822) [23:55]
CD 2 [76:25]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Manfred, op.115 – overture (1849) [12:37]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
The Hebrides – overture op.26 Fingal’s cave (1830) [10:03]
Bedrich SMETANA (1824-1884)
Má vlast – Vltava (1875) [12:38]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Oberon overture (1826) [9:59]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Rosamunde D644 – overture (1820) [10:42]
Rosamunde D797 – incidental music (1823) [9:59]
Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842)
Anacréon – overture (1803) [9:41]
CD 3 [71:35]
Christoph Willibald von GLUCK (1714-1787)
Alceste – overture (1767) [8:45]
Iphigénie en Aulide – overture (1774) [10:05]
Carl Maria von WEBER (1786-1826)
Der Freischütz – overture (1821) [10:44]
Euryanthe – overture (1823) [9:29]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (1895) [16:17]
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Les Préludes (1848) [15:40]
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwängler
rec. Musikvereinssaal, Vienna (all except Schubert D797) and Brahmssaal, Vienna (Schubert D797); 7-8 Dec 1948 and 17 Feb 1949 (Mozart); 15 Feb 1949 (Mendelssohn); 19-21 Jan 1950 (Schubert D759); 1 Feb 1950 (Weber Oberon); 2 Feb. 1950 (Schubert D797); 3 and 17 Jan 1951 (Schubert D644); 11 Jan 1951 (Cherubini); 11, 12 and 17 Jan 1951 (Haydn and Gluck Iphigénie en Aulide); 24 Jan 1951 (Schumann and Smetana); 3 March 1954 (Strauss and Liszt); March 1954 (Weber Der Freischütz); 6 March 1954 (Weber Euryanthe); and 8 March 1954 (Gluck Alceste). ADD
EMI CLASSICS 50999 9 08119 2 0 [3 CDs: 71:06 + 76:25 + 71:35]


Experience Classicsonline

This three-disc box set is issued in parallel with – and is, no doubt, intended to act as a taster for – a far larger EMI box set Wilhelm Furtwängler: the great recordings (14 CDs, EMI 9 08161-2). In this briefer survey, the first disc focuses on core symphonic repertoire while the other two feature a miscellany of overtures and orchestral favourites. The orchestra throughout is the Vienna Philharmonic and the recordings are all post-war – mostly set down on chilly winter days between December 1948 and January 1951, but with a final burst of creative activity in the first week or so of March 1954.

Almost all the recordings are well known. What is equally well known, though, is that Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954) was a conductor who rarely felt comfortable in the studio. He seems, on the contrary, to have been inspired to his greatest levels of spontaneity and artistic imagination by the presence – and reactions - of a live audience and the absence of the technological restraints imposed by the recording process. As a result, many of his most compelling and individually characterised performances were given in concert halls and have, as a result, either been lost forever or else preserved in less than ideal sound.

The symphonies on CD 1 are very enjoyably done, though anyone used only to modern historically-informed performance practice will no doubt find them over-weighty and distinctly old-school. Lacking the “subjective” indiosyncracies that characterise many of Furtwängler’s live recordings – but that can become somewhat irritating on repeated listening – these are relatively straightforward accounts, though none is lacking in real distinction. A notably driven Mozart G minor is most enjoyable; the affectionate account of Haydn’s Surprise is especially warm and silky; while Schubert’s Unfinished, in contrast, is serious of purpose and darkly hued.

Of the overtures and miscellaneous orchestral works on CDs 2 and 3, none is less than expertly conceived and executed, though whether they amount to essential examples of Furtwängler’s artistry is at least open to question.

Furtwängler’s many admirers will, I imagine, be buying the big 14-disc set referred to above and, apart from them, I wonder whether there really is an audience for this smaller box’s pick’n’mix approach. After all, as concert programmes clearly demonstrate, from the 1950s onwards public taste has veered away from overtures and orchestral showpieces towards more substantial works, a development largely caused by the change from 78s – well suited to shorter pieces but not to longer ones – to LPs and then CDs. Thus, even as Furtwängler was recording the pieces on these discs, they were on the verge of falling out of favour.

By sheer coincidence, on the very day I completed this review (17 May 2011), The Times reprinted its 1935 report of the death of French composer Paul Dukas, in the course of which the writer had observed that “... M. Dukas is known chiefly by his popular orchestral scherzo L’Apprenti Sorcier without which a Promenade season would be incomplete [my emphasis]. Could there be a more graphic illustration of how times – and concert programming practices – have changed in the past 76 years?

It is also worth noting that, although the sound on these studio recordings, further enhanced by digital remastering in 1998, is far better than we are used to on many discs of Furtwängler recorded live, it still remains rather opaque (though there is a marked improvement in the Rosamunde incidental music, recorded in Vienna’s Brahmssaal). Unfortunately, EMI’s technology at the time was just not up to the cutting edge standards being forged by the likes of Decca.

Such musical miscellanies can be of interest – and I have in the past given very warm welcomes on this site to similar Furtwängler potpourris released on the Naxos Historical label. But their primary value was in offering genuine and rare insights into the performance practice and orchestral styles and standards of the 1920s and 1930s. The 1950s Vienna Philharmonic, by contrast, is already well documented on disc and, as already mentioned, most studio accounts fail, in any case, to convey the genuine essence of this particular conductor.

Wilhelm Furtwängler was without doubt, as the title of this box set asserts, a musical legend, but I’m not sure that you’d necessarily deduce as much by listening to these newly-reissued recordings.

Rob Maynard


































































Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.