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Beethoven: Violin Concerto & Romances
Ludwig van Beethoven, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Beethoven: Violin Concerto & Romances
Genre: Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #1

Made when Menuhin was in his 30s, this recording catches him at his incomparable peak. His technique is effortless, smooth, and perfect, but it is his tone that is truly breathtaking in its intensity, radiance, purity, and...  more »

      
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Made when Menuhin was in his 30s, this recording catches him at his incomparable peak. His technique is effortless, smooth, and perfect, but it is his tone that is truly breathtaking in its intensity, radiance, purity, and personal expressiveness. The low register glows warmly, while the top has a celestial shimmer. Playing from deep inside the music, he emphasizes the improvisatory freedom of the Romances, especially the second one, making them dreamy, warm, urgent, ecstatic, ethereal, and almost too romantic. The Concerto, too, has a wonderful, flexible spontaneity combined with a grand conception; each theme has its own character: the passage-work plays around the melodies in the orchestra, the slow movement is serene and inward, and the Rondo is sprightly and full of life. The virtuosity of the Kreisler cadenzas never overshadows their musical substance. Furtwängler's approach is fascinatingly different from today's in its imaginative freedom: tempos change for every theme and every mood, and speeds increase and decrease along with the dynamics, yet these liberties sound completely natural and organic, enhancing rather than distorting the music. Salvatore Accardo's very different recording of the same works makes for an interesting comparison: classically austere, noble, inwardly expressive without outward changes, restrained in tempo and feeling, it is entirely convincing. --Edith Eisler
 

CD Reviews

Menuhin and Furtwangler's prominent joint
Chung-Whun Chung | Seoul, Republic of Korea | 11/12/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Yehudi Menuhin and Wilhelm Furtwangler were recorded Beethoven's Violin Concerto three times. First is here, and second is live recording(with Berliner Philharmoniker) made by RIAS(Radio in American Sector) Berlin. Last is EMI's re-recording with Philharmonia Orchestra in London. First was recorded in Luzern, with Orchester der Festspiele Luzern(Lucerne Festival Orchestra). It was EMI's SP recording but its sound quality is very good in this time. Luzern Kunsthaus' resonant effect was very 'fantastic'. Menuhin's humanistic approach in this marvelous concerto so good. And Furtwangler's accompaniment is very comportable, too. Two lovely Romances was recorded in London with Philharmonia Orchestra(Recording times and place were same as third recording of concerto). Menuhin's ringing performance on Furtwangler's generous accompaniment is so nice, too. Recording of Romances were first CD restoration internationally in this-by Testament."
Yehudi Rules
amazonmusic | Houston, Texas United States | 02/15/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Oh my, oh my!! Beautiful music beautifully played. I have loved Yehudi's interpretation style since I was in grade school, especially his Bach, so it is not surprising for me to love this, too. Better sound quality (recording-wise) than his norm, so I consider it a better CD to own."
Menuhin in Beethoven: Lucerne 1947 vs. London 1953
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 01/01/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Reviewers here consistently prefer this live 1947 radio broadcast from the Lucerne Festival over the 1953 studio recording from London. I'm not sure the choice is that clear cut, however, until one knows the salient details.

Lucerne 1947: Historically, this is a touching memento of Menuhin's decision to appear with Furtwangler soon after the war, at a time when the conductor's de-Nazification was slow and painful. Menuhin's generous gesture helped to rehabilitate Furtwangler in circles that had condemned him, and this Beethoven concerto performance shows how musically sympathetic the two artists were. Menuhin is placed far forward, his tone bright and at times shrill (as captured by the microphone) but nonetheless warm enough to listen to without wincing. His technique is adequate to the piece despite some effortful passages.

Furtwangler gives almost an identical accompaniment in both recordings, although the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in concert is less polished than the Philharmonia in the studio. Sonics are good radio mono. Tempos are the same in both recordings except for the slow movement, which is 2 min. slower in Lucerne. Menuhin opens the finale firmly and in tune.

1953 London: This studio recording is in quite good mono for its day, and the Philharmonia sounds especially warm and inviting. One notes a metallic edge in both orchestra and soloist at loud volumes (I haven't heard the latest remastering, which might have solved this problem). Menuhin's technique is no longer entirely adequate to the part, though his interpretation hasn't changed in six years. He is noticeably out of tune beginning the finale, with gravelly tone on the G string. In both performances his approach is cautious rather than free and rhapsodic.

Furtwangler's accompaniment has great depth and lyric flow, without the drama he is capable of in Beethoven, however. It's often said that he felt constrained in the studio and freer in concert, but in this case both accounts are quite similar.
After all is said and done, the difference isn't so much interpretive but technical--Menuhin had slipped too far by 1953, at least to this listener.

The final and most important question is whether these are deeply felt and noble performances. Surprisingly, I didn't find them so this time around, but I did ten years ago. Subjectivity plays a crucial part in the role of the listener. I can sympathize with people who feel ennobled by these readings even though they have dimmed for me.
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