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Thread: FURTWANGLER, as great as he's supposed to be?

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Question FURTWANGLER, as great as he's supposed to be?

    Open for discussion.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Itullian View Post
    yes
    Agreed . . .

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    Senior Member Amfibius's Avatar
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    What else is there to say but "yes"? For many works, Furtwangler's recording is still the definitive one - the one to get (if one ignores the poor sound quality for many of the earlier recordings).

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    From the recorded evidence, there is absolutely no question that Furtwangler was one of the greatest conductors ever . He was one of the most profound and deeply insightful conductors of Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Bruckner , Schubert ,Schumann etc,
    and surprisingly effective in the music of other composers, such as Hindemith , Franck,
    Ravel ,Verdi ,etc.
    His background as a composer no doubt gave him great insight into the music of the great masters, and though this is not always admitted, he was a committed advocate of the new music of his day, such as the then new or recent works of Hindemith, Schoenberg, Stravinsky,Bartok, Prokofiev, and other great composers who were his contemporaries.
    His live recordings are not always executed with impeccable precision and polish , the kind you get with strict taskmasters such as Reiner,Szell and Toscanini , but the sheer spontaneity and eloquence of them renders this fact irrelevant .
    Some of his most famous and important recordings are the legendary EMI recording of Tristan &Isolde with Kirsten Flagstad and Ludwig Suthaus , the famous live Beethoven 9th from the re -opening of the Bayreuth festival in 1951, the two live Ring cycles from Rome and La Scala, Milan , the studio Vienna Walkure, his last recording, the beginning of what would have been a complete studio Ring had he not
    passed away right after this, the various recordings of the Beethoven,Brahms, Bruckner , and Schubert symphonies, such as the Berlin Phil/DG Schubert 9th , a studio recording, the BPO/DG Schumann 4th, and the live Salzburg recordings of such operas as Don Giovanni, Der Freischutz, and surprisiningly Verdi's Otello, which holds its own with other versions by conductors more known for this composer.
    Don't hesitate to get these !

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    Senior Member World Violist's Avatar
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    Repeatedly, Furtwangler's interpretations of Bruckner have wrung me out emotionally. I haven't even gotten around to many of the other composers he's performed. His Bruckner 8 and 9 are among the best performances I've ever come across. The sheer humanity is staggering.

    EDIT: And yes, I've heard his EMI Tristan, which was also staggering, but to my mind it misses a bit of that edge he has in Bruckner (though that Act 2 duet was right up there...everyone in the studio was possessed by it, I'm convinced.).
    Last edited by World Violist; Oct-25-2011 at 21:23.
    You get a frog in your throat, you sound hoarse.

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    Senior Member GrosseFugue's Avatar
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    Hi all,

    My first post on this site!

    And YES -- Furtwangler IS great. To add to the list Superhorn gave I want to mention Furt's 1954 live account of Beethoven's Fifth. Simply the GREATEST version of this work out there. His scherzo-to-finale transition is OUT OF THIS WORLD. Listen to that horn going all out! His '47 version is also very, very good (faster in tempo).

    In regard to "poor sound quality" -- have any of you had a chance to listen to the new remasters of Furtwangler's recordings (Wagner, Bruckner, wartime Beethoven) on Pristine Classical? They've been re-equalized and re-engineered with "Ambient Stereo":
    http://www.pristineclassical.com/Lar...al/PACO057.php
    http://www.pristineclassical.com/Lar...al/PASC250.php
    There's also a remaster of his '54 Beethoven's 9th, which is next on my list. I've been very impressed with the FLAC downloads I've purchased.
    WARNING: Once you enter this site you'll likely not leave for hours, maybe all day.

    PS -- Please PM me if anyone's interested in more details about these recordings. I'd love to share.
    Last edited by GrosseFugue; Dec-01-2011 at 01:05.

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    Senior Member Amfibius's Avatar
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    GrosseFugue, the Furtwangler Beethoven 9 from 1942 is one of my favourite recordings. This one: http://www.pristineclassical.com/Covers/PASC250.pdf

    I am not planning to buy a FLAC download. I want to order the CD. My question for you is: have you heard the conventional master of this recording (available on Naxos and a few other labels). Most of these pressings are close to unlistenable - bandwidth limited, and the screechy top end really hurts your ears after a while. How does the Pristine Classical master compare to those?

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    Senior Member GrosseFugue's Avatar
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    Amfibius,

    The soundstage is much improved, IMO (thanks to the Ambient Stereo he uses). And much less "screechy top end;" it's quite listenable. You can sample a mvt on Pristine's site. I had a CD version of that '42 recording previously burned by a friend that was on the Music & Arts label I think. The Pristine Remaster is much better. In fact, I'm hoping eventually to replace ALL my historical recordings with the new Pristine versions.

    Their CD's are typically more expensive than the downloads. I don't see the advantage anymore in getting CD's when you can download FLAC which is just as good sound-wise and far more convenient (does anyone even carry around CD's anymore?). Also, if you go with a 24-bit download it's even better than CD sound.

    Recently, I've used AppleLossless for some Solti/Ring CD's and find them also to be very good. Then again I'm an audiophile on a extreme budget so don't have any top-end amps to use with my Grado cans (which may or may not make a difference).

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    Senior Member Amfibius's Avatar
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    Thank you for your comments and your PM, GrosseFugue. Looks like I will have to order myself a copy of this disc.

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    Senior Member Bill H.'s Avatar
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    Another site worth investigating for downloads is this one:

    http://furtwanglersound.com/

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    Senior Member kv466's Avatar
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    Yes, he is...as are a couple dozen others.

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    Senior Member GrosseFugue's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill H. View Post
    Another site worth investigating for downloads is this one:

    http://furtwanglersound.com/
    Wow, thanks, Bill! I didn't know about this one. Have you downloaded any music from them? How would you say it compares to the remasters done by Pristine Classical?

    UPDATE (12/1/11): I just corresponded with the creator of furtwanglersound, Eduardo Chibas. A music-lover who also happens to be an amateur conductor! He's gotten some rave reviews for his remasters. Henry Fogel (former manager of the Chicago Symphony) says of Chibas's version of Beethoven's wartime Ninth: "He has achieved his aim of a more present timpani sound and a sense of rhythmic crispness that exceeds all other versions." Can't wait to dip into some of his FLAC downloads. Judging from what I've sampled on his website it should be pretty awesome. Ah, isn't great to have all those cool options? YES! These are good times for historical recordings!
    Last edited by GrosseFugue; Dec-02-2011 at 10:20. Reason: update

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    Senior Member GrosseFugue's Avatar
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    Oh, and here's the new Furtwangler Legacy Box set (107 CD's!!!) that came out this year: http://www.amazon.com/Wilhelm-Furtwa...ref=pd_sim_m_6
    Wonder how it compares to the remasters done by the aforementioned websites.

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    Senior Member (Ret) moody's Avatar
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    Grosse fugue, Furtwangler was very great----I was fortunate enough to attend one of his concerts when he came to London after the war. His conducting was extraordinary, he tottered and wandered about all over the rostrum as if in a trance. He is,however, one of those artists better heard live I think the recording process inhibited him somewhat. The wartime Berlin concerts are amazing and German radio's technology was quite advanced . The sound standard doesn't worry me , but then I'm an old fogey who started off with 78 rpm records. Get everything you can !

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