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Thread: Klemperer vs Furtwängler

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Default Klemperer vs Furtwängler

    These are two German conductors of undeniably titanic stature, almost exact contemporaries, with Klemperer being a few months older. Both are renowned for their interpretive touch and idiosyncratic approach to conducting, but I think that is where the similarities end. Klemperer is known well for his Mahler, Mozart, Brahms, Bruckner, etc. Furtwängler, as far as I can tell, is known well for his Beethoven, Wagner, Schubert, Brahms, Bruckner, etc.

    Do you have a preference between the two? Is either of these two giants your favorite conductor? Do you think either or both of them are overrated (or underrated)? In which composers or works does each excel?

    Speaking personally, I'm quite unfamiliar with both, having heard only a couple of recordings by each. For Klemperer, I've heard and really enjoyed his Brahms German Requiem, and his Mozart 40th and 41st symphonies. His Mozart 40th I think is the best I've heard, even though I generally like quicker tempos with this one. I have his Mahler Das Lied von der Erde with Fritz Wunderlich and Christa Ludwig, but I haven't heard it yet.

    As for Furtwängler, I've heard his Brahms 1st symphony with the NDR Orchestra and really enjoyed it. I've also heard parts of his Tristan und Isolde, thought it was amazing, and a recording he did of Beethoven's Eroica (I think with the Berlin Philharmonic, sometime in the 1950s, I believe?)

    Both are about equal in my book. Couldn't choose one or the other at this stage.

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    Furtwangler was one very gifted conductor.
    I 've heard Klemperer's Philharmonia's recordings.
    Not the same level. But then some love Celibidache's sluggish tempos.

    The one thing which holds Furtwangler back , is the very poor recorded sound. Had we Furtwangler in DDD, well engineered micing in the recordings, you would know who is the superior of the 2.
    Furtwangler, Knappertsbusch and Keilberth are in my opinion, germany's 3 finest conductors,
    Bruno Walter I consider more American/german conductor and was the greatest American conductor.
    Last edited by paulbest; Jun-29-2019 at 16:39.

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    Furtwangler was impulsive, his interpretations were inspired and he didn't follow any formula. Klemperer's was a style... he chose to present things monumental. It was his taste. They are quite different conductors. If you want to compare, Furtwangler was more like Stokowski, and Klemperer was more like Celibidache (as paulbest pointed out)
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    Senior Member amfortas's Avatar
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    Among German conductors, Furtwängler stands out. His name doesn't begin with a "K."
    Alan

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    They are quite different conductors.
    They are different, but what is notable about both of them is that I find myself at times saying, "What is he doing?" and then following it with, "Oh, I didn't see that coming."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Manxfeeder View Post
    They are different, but what is notable about both of them is that I find myself at times saying, "What is he doing?" and then following it with, "Oh, I didn't see that coming."
    That's the job of the conductor. They aren't reading notes off a sheet of paper, they're bringing them to life.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigshot View Post
    That's the job of the conductor. They aren't reading notes off a sheet of paper, they're bringing them to life.
    True. But those two tend to put more into the music than is actually there, which, depending in a person's outlook, is either art or desecration.

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    Both of them represent an outdated style but some of their recordings are certainly worth hearing.

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Both of them represent an outdated style but some of their recordings are certainly worth hearing.
    Do you think the art of conducting has been improved on since their heyday? Who, in your eyes, represents the contemporary style of conducting in exemplary fashion?

    Really enjoying these responses. I now see I placed this thread in the wrong subforum. If a mod sees this, I'd appreciate if this could be moved to the Musicians forum.

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    I love them both.
    They conduct with FEELING and are always interesting.
    Along with Bernstein, Walter and Giulini they are my favorite conductors.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Both of them represent an outdated style but some of their recordings are certainly worth hearing.
    Greatness is never out of style.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Do you think the art of conducting has been improved on since their heyday? Who, in your eyes, represents the contemporary style of conducting in exemplary fashion?

    .
    I think more recent conductors have taken more trouble to investigate and implement the sort of performances the composers intended, things like the size of orchestra and the balance of the instruments, the speeds and the articulation. A good example which I very much like is the recent release of Brahms by Thomas Zehetmair.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    These are two German conductors of undeniably titanic stature, almost exact contemporaries, with Klemperer being a few months older. Both are renowned for their interpretive touch and idiosyncratic approach to conducting, but I think that is where the similarities end. Klemperer is known well for his Mahler, Mozart, Brahms, Bruckner, etc. Furtwängler, as far as I can tell, is known well for his Beethoven, Wagner, Schubert, Brahms, Bruckner, etc.

    Do you have a preference between the two? Is either of these two giants your favorite conductor? Do you think either or both of them are overrated (or underrated)? In which composers or works does each excel?

    Speaking personally, I'm quite unfamiliar with both, having heard only a couple of recordings by each. For Klemperer, I've heard and really enjoyed his Brahms German Requiem, and his Mozart 40th and 41st symphonies. His Mozart 40th I think is the best I've heard, even though I generally like quicker tempos with this one. I have his Mahler Das Lied von der Erde with Fritz Wunderlich and Christa Ludwig, but I haven't heard it yet.

    As for Furtwängler, I've heard his Brahms 1st symphony with the NDR Orchestra and really enjoyed it. I've also heard parts of his Tristan und Isolde, thought it was amazing, and a recording he did of Beethoven's Eroica (I think with the Berlin Philharmonic, sometime in the 1950s, I believe?)

    Both are about equal in my book. Couldn't choose one or the other at this stage.

    The one who is normally opposed to Furtwangler isn’t Klemperer, it’s Toscanini. Toscanini’s Brahms, especially the earlier recordings, is very special. Toscanini stands to Furtwangler as Solti stands to Karajan.

    Another conductor who I think is well worth exploring from olden times is Mengelberg.

    Putting aside opera Furtwangler’s strong composers were Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner. Klemperer’s were Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, Mozart and Mahler.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Jun-29-2019 at 22:16.

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    Senior Member Becca's Avatar
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    What is not often realized these days is that in his younger days, Klemperer was a very strong proponent of modern music particularly during his years at the Kroll Opera in Berlin. It was only in his last 15-20 years that he became the grand old man of the central European repertoire.

    P.S. Don't forget Klemperer's Wagner.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    ^^^^I also remember seeing a video here where Klemperer's take on a Beethoven or Brahms symphony was closer to the composer's intention than the modern conductors
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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