Search - Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann II [Junior] Strauss, Carl Maria von Weber :: Beethoven: Symphony No. 7

Beethoven: Symphony No. 7
Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann II [Junior] Strauss, Carl Maria von Weber
Beethoven: Symphony No. 7
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1


CD Details


CD Reviews

Furtwangler Masterings from the Original '78s - Japanese Imp
Doug - Haydn Fan | California | 04/18/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This CD derives directly from pristine 78 records: the Japanese producers feel more of the music comes through this way. Whether or not this is true, purchasers should be aware light surface noise endemic to such records has deliberately not been eliminated through the usual various filtering notches employed by modern sound restorers. Failing EMI taking the original metal masters and pressing super clean new vinyl, as was done for some of the early 1900 opera issues - for example Keith Hardwick's legendary Batistini LP album - this Japanese CD is about as close as you can get to the sound of the initial Furtwangler releases.

There are no dates published by Opus Kura, so here is the pertinent information for you Furtwangler fanatics; all the recordings are with the Vienna Philharmonic:

1) Beethoven - 7th Symphony...... 25,30,31 January 1950. Musikvereinsaal.
2) Strauss II - Emperor Waltz.......... 24 January 1950. "
3) Weber - Oberon Overture............. 1 February 1950. "
4) Mendelssohn - Hebrides Overture..... 15 February 1949. "
5) Wagner - Meistersinger Act 1 Prelude 1,4 April 1949. "

When the first of these recordings were made Furtwangler had been back conducting for exactly two years, his return following a two year interruption in his conducting imposed on him while he underwent DeNazification at the end of the Second World War.

His first public concert had been in Rome, with an Italian orchestra at the beginning of April 1947; his first German appearance came two months later at the end of May in Berlin with the Berlin Philharmonic. Furtwangler led an all-Beethoven concert which would become almost a trademark with him - a Beethoven Overture, and the Beethoven 6th symphony followed by the Beethoven 5th symphony. Later he would offer a variant on this remarkable pairing - following the Pastoral with the slightly less dramatic and intense Beethoven 7th. (Though of course, this being Furtwangler, his version of the Beethoven 7th quite likely was more imposing and dramatic than many other conductors' 5th symphony!)

When Furtwangler made the Beethoven Seventh recording re-issued here he had given no less than 18 concert performances of the Beethoven 7th in the last two years alone. This number dwarfs the numbers found in the concert schedules of modern conductors, who take on a far wider repetorie, and must bow to symphony schedules designed by jaded elitists who would never permit such meat and potatoes concerts as two major Beethoven symphonies back to back. Astonishing as it seems today, Furtwangler's frequent performances of the Beethoven 7th were not a quirk or special indulgence - during the same two years of intensive concertizing he also led more than twenty performances of the Beethoven 5th, and nearly as many of the Beethoven 6th.

Thus these are hugely informed performances - it's no wonder they sound so much more fundamental and secure than modern performances. Furtwangler here leads an excellent and bracing performance, with an exceptional last movement. Only Furtwangler can top this performance - and you can purchase such at Beethoven - Symphonies 5 & 7

The high point of this set, at least in terms of performance, must be the Strauss II Emperor's Waltz. Furtwangler and the Vienna are the perfect match in this exalted tone-poem waltz. My friend Charlie, opera critic par excellence and expert on all things Viennese, off-handedly observed that they retired the number with this one. I humbly agree. Furtwangler's uncanny skill at building long slow gradations of orchestra volume creates an overwhelming sense of rightness in this music. Furtangler unfolds with unequalled granduer of scale the grand themes of this waltz. Music truly fit for an Emperor!

The other three selections are all superb examples of this legendary conductor's fabulous talent. If you have not heard Furtwangler conduct Carl Maria von Weber's overture to Oberon it's very fine, but such colorful music cries out for modern stereo! Karajan, Kubelik or Szell all play it very well.

This CD is a viable alternative for serious collectors: it's a chance to hear how Furtwangler's 78s sounded when they first were issued, without the modern 'touch-ups' and filterings.

Two pages of Japanese notes are augmented with two pages of notes about this era of Furtwangler recordings by Ralph Steinberg.