For The 1948 Stockholm Brahms Requiem
Jeffrey Lipscomb | Sacramento, CA United States | 04/23/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Furtwangler was surely one of the greatest of all Brahms interpreters, but the recorded sound of these "live" performances will be a challenge for all but the most ardent Furtwangler admirer. I have owned the 1948 Stockholm account since its first appearance on Unicorn LPs: it's one of Furtwangler's most spiritual readings on disc. The sound is rather congested but listenable. Unfortunately, the other account here (1947 Lucerne, with Schwarzkopf & Hotter) has really dreadful sound. The soloists in Stockholm (Lindberg-Torlind & Sonnerstedt) are perfectly adequate: the soprano also appeared in the "live" 1950 Fritz Busch Beethoven 9th (available in a historic Beethoven set from DG - see my review).
There is no shortage of "historic" Brahms Requiems to choose from: recordings by Mengelberg, Walter, Toscanini, Abendroth, Schuricht, and Lehmann have all appeared on CD in addition to this pair by Furtwangler. My personal favorites are the Lehmann (with Stader & Wiener on DG) and this Stockholm account by Furtwangler. In stereo, the Klemperer (EMI) is excellent.
Suggestion: with a little patience, you can probably find this set (either through a discounter or second-hand) at half-price or less (I bought mine used for around $12). That way you can own the better-sounding 1948 reading at a reasonable price. In it you will hear Furtwangler guide his Stockholm forces to some of the greatest Brahms "moments" ever recorded. If, like me, you are simply bowled-over by what Furtwangler could do in transitional passages (e.g., the overwhelming crescendo leading into the last mvt. of his 1943 Beethoven 5th, or the corresponding passage in his fabulous studio Schumann 4th), then you MUST hear what the conductor does in this Requiem's 2nd mvt. Starting at about 9:02, Furtwangler's volcanic build-up to the choral re-entry is, in a word, staggering.
Recommended solely for the 1948 Stockholm account.
One good cd for the price of two.
J. R. Nebeker | Salt Lake City, UT | 05/01/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The Stockholm performance is great in spots but the Luzern performance is barely audible through the hiss. Caveat emptor."