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Wilhelm Furtwängler: The Great EMI Recordings
Track-listing at end of review
Edwin Fischer (piano); Yehudi Menuhin (violin); Willi Boskovsky (violin) and Emanuel Brabec (cello)/Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra/Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Philharmonia Orchestra/Wilhelm Furtwängler
EMI CLASSICS 9078782 [21 CDs; over 24 hours]

Experience Classicsonline

Admirers of Furtwängler will welcome the opportunity offered to ‘collar the lot’ of his EMI recordings. There are no surprises in the vaults, but this 21 disc set offers a panorama of his recordings, in readings that often contrast strongly with others that exist, notably the live wartime Berlin ones which show him at his most energised. Not everything here is of comparable intensity, but the chance to acquire complete symphonic cycles of his Beethoven and Brahms are not easily spurned; nor too the not-so-small matter of Fidelio and Tristan.

The first thing to note is that the Beethoven symphonic cycle was not intended as such. The Second Symphony is heard live (badly recorded) in the Royal Albert Hall in 1948 and the Eighth comes from Stockholm, live in the same year. The Ninth is the famous Bayreuth inscription, live again, of 1951. The whole cycle has been recently re-transferred, so that these are not the usually encountered affairs. The restoration has been well done, albeit the sound in the Second is still grubby. I doubt it will get much better.

The Brahms symphonies suffer from a booklet typo. It would indeed be strange had the Vienna Philharmonic recorded live in the Berlin Titania-Palast in 1948-49. So, for clarity’s sake, the first two symphonies are with the Vienna Philharmonic in 1952 (in Vienna and Munich) and the last two are with the Berlin Philharmonic. My last encounter with Furtwängler’s Brahms came on a very well-transferred Music and Arts set, and for some cross-referencing you might like to check with that review.

I’ve also reviewed briefly the Brahms concerto disc, which is CD13; the violin concerto is the Lucerne Festival recording of 1949 with Menuhin, whilst the Double Concerto is in the comfortable hands of Boskovsky and Brabec with their own Vienna orchestra from three years later. Menuhin can also be heard in Bartók’s Violin Concerto No.2. Another constant collaborator was Edwin Fischer, heard in the famed Beethoven Emperor Concerto recording with the Philharmonia in 1951 and also in the conductor’s own Symphonic Concerto in B minor, a pre-war (just) studio performance.

Other important recordings are those of Mozart’s G minor Symphony (Vienna, 1948-49) and the famous studio 1938 Tchaikovsky Pathétique. Furtwängler had a somewhat uneasy relationship with Richard Strauss, and with his music, but at his best, and he is at something like his best here, Don Juan is probably the pick of the three tone poems recorded. Till Eulenspiegel and Tod und Verklärung make up the triumvirate. There’s the Haydn Surprise Symphony (Vienna, 1951) and the famed Schubert Unfinished (Vienna, 1950).

Tristan has been covered in reviews on this site and the transfer in this box of this is identical. The epochal Fidelio recording is the familiar transfer as well.

The final disc is called ‘Remembering Furtwängler’, written, narrated and produced by Jon Tolansky, who has been similarly active in a number of such projects. We hear from Aldo Ciccolini, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Peter Gellhorn and Menuhin, as well as four Philharmonia members who played under the conductor; Hugh Bean, John Meek, Hugh Maguire and Harold Nash. Bernard Dennis-Browne is also heard, as is Elisabeth Furtwängler, the conductor’s widow. Of these, it’s interesting to hear what Gellhorn says of the conductor’s return to the orchestra after an enforced absence in 1934. I like Bean’s description of Furtwängler’s conducting technique as being ‘like a puppet on a string’, and also his recollection of the weight of the conductor’s chording. The rehearsal segment (Leonore No.3) is also very valuable to hear. Fischer-Dieskau recollects, amongst other things, the conductor’s insecurities.

I have only sampled much of this set, but clearly it offers an impressive chance to add a cornerstone collection to the shelves. I would add, however, that supplementary listening is necessary to appreciate that the bulk of Furtwängler’s earlier, live performances generate a great increase in tensile strength.

Jonathan Woolf

Full track-listing
CD 1
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Symphony No. 1 in C Op. 21 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I Adagio molto - Allegro con brio
7:56
II. Andante cantabile con moto
7:23
III. Menuetto (Allegro molto e vivace)
3:53
IV. Adagio - Allegro molto e vivace
6:23
Symphony No. 3 in E flat 'Eroica' Op. 55 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro con brio
16:10
II. Marcia funebre (Adagio assai)
17:23
III. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
6:31
IV. Allegro molto - Poco andante - Presto
12:20

CD2
Symphony No. 2 in D Op. 36 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Adagio - Allegro con brio
10:09
II. Larghetto
11:08
III. Scherzo (Allegro)
4:00
IV. Allegro molto
6:53
Symphony No. 4 in B flat Op. 60 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Adagio - Allegro vivace
10:41
II. Adagio
11:49
III. Allegro vivace - Trio (Un poco meno allegro)
6:01
IV. Allegro ma non troppo
7:34


CD3
Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro con brio
8:38
II. Andante con moto
11:21
III. Allegro -
6:03
IV. Allegro - Presto
9:45
Symphony No. 7 in A Op. 92 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Poco sostenuto - Vivace
13:07
II. Allegretto
10:20
III. Presto - Assai meno presto
8:40
IV. Allegro con brio
6:54


CD4
Symphony No. 6 in F 'Pastoral' Op. 68 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro ma non troppo (Awakening of cheerful feelings on arriving in the country)
11:57
II. Andante molto moto (Scene by the brook)
13:28
III. Allegro (Merry gathering of the country folk) -
5:58
IV. Allegro (Storm and tempest) -
4:08
V. Allegretto (Shepherds' Song. Happy and thankful feelings after the storm)
9:25
Symphony No. 8 in F Op. 93 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro vivace e con brio
8:06
II. Allegretto scherzando
4:34
III. Tempo di menuetto
5:52
IV. Allegro vivace
7:35


CD5
Applause
1:13
Symphony No. 9 in D minor 'Choral' Op. 125 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro ma non troppo, un poco maestoso
18:00
II. Molto vivace - Presto - Molto vivace - Presto
12:05
III. Adagio molto e cantabile - Andante moderato
19:41
IV. Presto - Allegro ma non troppo - Allegro assai - Allegro assai vivace - Alla marcia - Andante maestoso - Allegro energico, sempre ben marcato - Allegro ma non tanto - Poco adagio - Prestissimo
25:14


CD6
Piano Concerto No. 5 in E flat 'Emperor' Op. 73 (2001 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro
20:49
II. Adagio un poco mosso -
7:51
III. Rondo (Allegro)
10:20
Violin Concerto No.2 (2001 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro non troppo
16:03
II. Andante tranquillo
10:07
III. Allegro molto
11:38

CD7
Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 (1998 Digital Remaster)
Allegro ma non troppo (Cadenza: Kreisler)
24:03
Larghetto
10:52
Rondo (Cadenza: Kreisler)
10:04
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor, Op. 64 (1999 Digital Remaster)
First movement: Allegro molto appassionato - Cadenza - Tempo I - Presto
12:29
Second movement: Andante - Allegretto non troppo
7:55
Third movement: Allegretto ma non troppo - Allegro molto vivace
6:45


CD8
Fidelio Op.72
Overture
6:35
Fidelio Op.72, ACT 1
Jetzt, Schätzchen, jetzt
5:09
Oh, wär' ich schon
4:39
Mir ist so wunderbar
4:44
Hat man nicht auch Gold
2:57
Gut, Söhnchen, gut
7:21
Marsch
2:15
Ha! Welch ein Augenblick
3:22
Jetzt, Alter
4:58
Abscheulicher!
7:57
O, welche Lust!
7:25
Nun sprecht, wie ging's?
6:00
Ach! Varter, eilt!
7:29


CD9
Fidelio Op.72, ACT 2
Introduktion
4:06
Gott! Welch Dunkel hier!
7:31
Wie kalt ist es in diesem unterirdischen Gewolbe!
2:15
Nur hurtig fort
4:36
Euch werde Lohn
6:40
Er sterbe!
3:50
Vater Rocco!
1:31
O namenlose Freude!
2:48
'Leonore' Nr. 3
15:19
Heil sei dem Tag
1:59
Des besten Königs Wink und Wille
3:53
Du schlossest auf des Edien Grab
3:52
Wer ein holdes Weib errungen
4:00

CD10
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
21 Hungarian Dances (2010 Digital Remaster)
No. 1 in G minor (Allegro molto)
3:08
No. 3 in F major (Allegretto)
2:31
No. 10 in F major (Presto)
1:47
Variations on a Theme by Haydn ('St Antoni Chorale'), Op. 56a (2010 Digital Remaster)
Thema: Chorale St. Antoni (Andante)
2:07
Variation I: Poco più animato
1:17
Variation II: Più vivace
1:01
Variation III: Con moto
2:06
Variation IV: Andante con moto
2:44
Variation V: Vivace
0:54
Variation VI: Vivace
1:22
Variation VII: Grazioso
3:18
Variation VIII: Presto non troppo
0:58
Finale: Andante
3:48
Symphony No. 1 in C minor Op. 68 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Un poco sostenuto - Allegro
14:28
II. Andante sostenuto
10:22
III. Un poco allegretto e grazioso
5:27
IV. Adagio - Allegro non troppo ma con brio
16:52


CD11
Symphony No. 2 in D major Op. 73 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro non troppo
15:35
II. Adagio non troppo
10:36
III. Allegretto grazioso (Quasi andantino) - Presto, ma non assai
5:54
IV. Allegro con spirito
9:01
Symphony No. 3 in F Op. 90 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro con brio - Un poco sostenuto
13:13
II. Andante
9:40
III. Poco allegretto
6:20
IV. Allegro - Un poco sostenuto
9:15


CD12
Symphony No. 4 in E minor Op. 98 (2010 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro non troppo
12:38
II. Andante moderato
12:12
III. Allegro giocoso
6:28
IV. Allegro energico e passionato
9:48
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN
Coriolan - Overture Op. 62 (2010 Digital Remaster)
8:34
Leonore Overture No. 2, Op. 72a (2010 Digital Remaster)
16:05

CD13
Johannes BRAHMS
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Op. 77 (2004 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro non troppo
22:09
II. Adagio
9:57
III. Allegro giocoso, ma non troppo vivace
8:00
Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra in A minor Op. 102 (1980 Digital Remaster)
First movement: Allegro
17:28
Second movement: Andante
7:55
Third movement: Vivace non troppo
9:28

CD14
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K.550 (1998 Digital Remaster)
I. Molto allegro
6:54
II. Andante
8:29
III. Menuetto (Allegretto) & Trio
4:21
IV. Finale (Allegro assai)
4:30
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Symphony No. 6 in B minor Op. 74 (Pathétique) (1993 Digital Remaster)
I. Adagio - Allegro con troppo
20:11
II. Allegro con grazia
8:50
III. Allegro molto vivace
9:15
IV. Adagio lamentoso
10:22


CD15
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)

Don Juan Op. 20 (1994 Digital Remaster)
18:47
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op.28 (1994 Digital Remaster)
16:17
Tod und Verklärung Op. 24 (1994 Digital Remaster)
24:41
Wilhelm FURTWÄNGLER (1885-1954)
Symphonic Concerto in B Minor (1999 Digital Remaster)
II Adagio - Sehr langasm
11:09

CD16
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act One
Prelude
11:01
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act One, Scene One
Westwärts schweift der Blick (Stimme eines jungen Seemanns/Isolde)
1:18
Brangäne , du? Sag - wo sind wir? (Isolde/Brangäne)
2:51
O weh! Ach! Ach, des Übels, das ich geahnt! (Isolde/Brangäne)
2:17
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act One, Scene Two
Frisch weht er Wind der Heimat zu (Stimme des jungen Seemanns)
0:49
Mir erkoren, mir verloren (Isolde/Brangäne)
3:25
Hab acht, Tristan! Botschaft von Isolde (Kurwenal/Tristan/Brangäne)
4:09
Darf ich die Antwort sagen? (Kurwenal/Tristan/Schiffsvolk)
1:41
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act One, Scene Three
Weh, ach wehe! Dies zu dulden! (Brangäne/Isolde)
2:02
Wie lachend sie mir Lieder singen (Isolde)
2:25
Von seinem Lager blickt' er her (Isolde)
2:10
O Wunder! Wo hatt'ich die Augen? (Brangäne/Isolde)
2:39
Da Friede, Sühn' und Freundschaft (Brangäne/Isolde)
2:52
O Süße! Traute! Teure! Holde! Goldne Herrin! (Brangäne)
3:08
Ungeminnt den hehrsten Mann (Isolde/Brangäne)
2:23
Kennst du der Mutter Künste nicht? (Brangäne/Isolde/Schiffsvolk)
4:05
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act One, Scene Four
Auf! Auf! Ihr Frauen! (Kurwenal)
1:11
Herrn Tristan bringe meinen Gruß (Isolde/Kurwenal)
2:19
Nun leb wohl, Brangäne! (Isolde/Brangäne/Kurwenal)
4:48
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act One, Scene Five
Langsam (Orchestra)
2:02
Begehrt, Herrin, was ihr wünscht (Tristan/Isolde)
1:49
Da du so sittsam, mein Herr Tristan (Tristan/Isolde)
2:17
Nun will ich des Eides walten (Tristan/Isolde)
3:20

CD17
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act One, Scene Five
War Morold dir so wert (Tristan/Isolde)
3:42
Ho! He! Ha! He! Am Obermast die Segel ein! (Stimmen des Schiffsvolkes/Tristan/Isolde)
1:26
Du hörst den Ruf? (Isolde)
2:37
Auf das Tau! Anker los! (Stimmen des Schiffsvolkes/Tristan/Isolde)
3:47
Tristan!...Isolde! (Isolde/Tristan/Ruf der Männer/Brangäne)
2:47
Was träumte mir von Tristans Ehre? (Tristan/Isolde)
1:41
Schnell, den Mantel, den Königsschmuck! (Brangäne/Alle Männer/Kurwenal/Tristan/Isolde)
2:32
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act Two
Vorspiel (Orchestra)
1:59
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act Two, Scene One
Hörst du sie noch? (Isolde/Brangäne)
3:51
Der deiner harrt - o hör mein Warnen! (Isolde/Brangäne)
4:11
O laß die warnende Zünde (Isolde/Brangäne)
3:14
Und mußte der Minne tückischer Trank (Isolde/Brangäne)
3:14
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act Two, Scene Two
Isolde! Geliebte!...Tristan! Geliebter! (Tristan/Isolde)
2:34
Das Licht! Das Licht! (Tristan/Isolde)
2:28
Der Tag! Der Tag! (Tristan/Isolde)
3:50
O eitler Tagesknecht! (Isolde)
2:40
In deiner Hand den süßen Tod (Tristan/Isolde)
3:26
O nun waren wir Nachtgeweihte! (Tristan)
3:37
O sink hernieder, Nacht der Liebe (Tristan/Isolde)
5:41
Einsam wachend in der Nacht (Brangänes Stimme)
3:30
Lausch, Geliebter! (Isolde/Tristan)
2:20
Unsre Liebe? Tristans Liebe? (Tristan)
2:54

CD18
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act Two, Scene Two
Doch unsre Liebe (Isolde/Tristan)
2:30
So stürben wir, um ungetrennt (Isolde/Tristan)
2:25
Habet acht! Habet acht! (Brangänes Stimme/Tristan/Isolde)
2:36
O ew'ge Nacht, süße Nacht! (Isolde/Tristan)
3:57
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act Two, Scene Three
Rette dich, Tristan! (Kurwenal/Tristan/Melot)
1:59
Tatest du's wirklich? Wähnst du das? (Marke/Tristan)
3:58
Wozu die Dienste ohne Zahl (Marke)
3:47
Dies wunderhehre Weib (Marke)
2:14
Nun, da durch solchen Besitz mein Herz (Marke)
3:55
O König, das kann ich dir nicht sagen (Tristan)
1:52
Wohin nun Tristan scheidet, willst du, Isold', ihm folgen? (Tristan)
3:09
Als für ein fremdes Land (Isolde)
2:36
Verräter! Ha! Zur Rache, König! (Melot/Tristan)
2:16
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act Three
Prelude (Orchestra)
4:05
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act Three, Scene One
Hirtenreigen auf einer Schalmei/Shepherd's pipe song (Orchestra/Englisch Horn)
3:17
Kurwenal! He! Sag, Kurwenal! (Hirt/Kurwenal)
3:18
Öd' und leer das Meer! (Hirt)... Hirtenreigen auf einer Schalmei/Shepherd's pipe song (Englisch Horn)...Die alte Weise (Tristan/Kurwenal)
3:09
Wo du bist? In Frieden, sicher und frei! (Kurwenal/Tristan)
4:41
Dünkt dich das? Ich weiß es anders (Tristan)
4:01
Isolde noch im Reich der Sonne! (Tristan/Kurwenal)
4:31


CD19
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act Three, Scene One
Noch losch das Licht nicht aus (Tristan/Kurwenal)
2:55
Mein Kurwenal, du trauter Freund! (Tristan)
2:49
Hirtenreigen auf einer Schalmei/Shepherd's pipe song (Englisch Horn)...Noch ist kein Schiff zu sehn! (Kurwenal/Tristan)
4:48
Nein! Ach nein! So heißt sie nicht! (Tristan)
3:21
Der Trank! Der Trank! Der furchtbare Trank! (Tristan)
3:06
Mein Herre! Tristan! Schrecklicher Zauber! (Kurwenal)
2:29
Das Schiff? Siehst du's noch nicht? (Tristan/Kurwenal)
2:14
Wie sie selig, hehr und milde (Tristan)
3:43
Hirtenreigen auf einer Schalmei/Shepherd's pipe song (Englisch Horn)...O Wonne! Freude! Ha! Das Schiff! (Kurwenal/Tristan)
3:28
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act Three, Scene Two
O diese Sonne! Ha, dieser Tag! (Tristan/Isolde)
3:49
Ich bin's, ich bin's, süßester Freund! (Isolde)
2:20
Die Wunde? Wo? Laß sie mich heilen! (Isolde)
4:05
Tristan und Isolde (2001 Digital Remaster), Act Three, Scene Three
Kurwenal! Hör! Ein zweites Schiff (Hirt/Kurwenal/Steuermann/Brangäne/Melot/Marke)
4:21
Tot denn alles! Alles tot! (Marke)
1:56
Sie wacht! Sie lebt! Isolde! (Brangäne/Marke)
3:28
Mild und leise wir er lächelt (Isolde)
3:43
Heller schallend, mich umwallend (Isolde)
3:29


CD20
Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Symphony No. 94 in G, 'Surprise'
I. Adagio Vivace assai
6:58
II. Andante
7:37
III. Menuetto (Allegro molto) & Trio
4:03
IV. Allegro di molto
3:51
Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842)
Anacréon - Overture (1998 Digital Remaster)
9:40
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony No. 8 in B Minor, D.759 'Unfinished' (1998 Digital Remaster)
I. Allegro moderato
1:38
II. Andante con moto
12:19
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Les Préludes, S.97
15:40

CD21
Remembering Furtwängler; reminiscences
Symphony No. 3
Introduction - Brief Memories from John Meek and Hugh Bean (Introductory Narration)
6:57
Furtwängler's audiences in the 1930s
2:27
Symphony No. 9 - Movement 1 - Narration
4:48
Symphony No. 9 - Movement 3 - Narration
4:45
Symphony No. 4 - Movement 4 - Narration
4:27
Furtwängler's reputation in the 1940s - Narration
2:30
Symphony No. 5
Movement 3 going into Movement 4
1:51
Furtwängler's rehearsals
1:24
Leonore No. 3 - Rehearsal
4:13
Philharmonia Orchestra Memories of Furtwängler
1:54
Violin Concerto
Orchestral Introduction - Narration
3:00
Symphony No. 6
Movement 5 - Narration
5:40
Philharmonia memories of Furtwängler continued
2:06
Tristan und Isolde
Prelude
4:06
Furtwängler and soloists
memories
1:17
Lieder eines fahrenden gesellen - Wenn mein Schatz Hochzeit macht
5:16
Furtwängler and soloists
memories continued
2:01
Violin Concerto
4:16
Furtwängler and Soloists
Memories - Continued
1:36
Memories of Furtwängler as a man
4:46
Symphony No. 9
Movement 4 (with narration)
4:17]


 


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