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Thread: Explain fascination with Furtwängler

  1. #211
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Is anybody saying this? That is a total straw man.
    The last few pages of this thread have been all about straw men. Some people apparently need them to sleep at night.

    The irony is that for the most part no one is faulting anyone for not responding to Furtwangler. It's the opposite. If you like Furtwangler then you are a prude, part of a cult, a believer in only one true way...did I leave anything out?
    Last edited by Brahmsianhorn; May-18-2020 at 22:13.

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  3. #212
    Senior Member Fabulin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    The last few pages of this thread have been all about straw men. Some people apparently need them to sleep at night.

    The irony is that for the most part no one is faulting anyone for not responding to Furtwangler. It's the opposite. If you like Furtwangler then you are a prude, part of a cult, a believer in only one true way...did I leave anything out?
    Yes. The more general irony (considering the nature of charges) of a zealous attack out of nowhere on those who came to tell why do they like Furtwängler in a thread about why is he liked.
    Last edited by Fabulin; May-18-2020 at 22:23.

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  5. #213
    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    If I were to point to one example of Furtwangler’s conducting that has the highest potential to help people appreciate what he was all about, and which exemplifies the strong aesthetic/emotional reaction that his admirers often have to him, it would be the first movement of Brahms’s 4th symphony in the wartime recording. Listen through the dim sound and try to hear the entire thing - it’s only about 12 minutes. Observe how he starts out at a rather hesitant, limping pace; stretching and pulling the evolving threads of melody like clay in his hands. Then, as the movement progresses and the music becomes more complex, there is a gradual unleashing of momentum, often hampered by startling grinds to a halt as if the music is incapable of really taking off. Then we reach the coda which hurls at a breakneck pace into the depths of the abyss and quite literally sounds like the orchestra has been possessed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see sparks shoot from the bows, reeds, and drumsticks in concert. He develops a narrative for the movement, inspires his vision in the players, and tells a true story. I think if you listen with an open mind and imagine the kind of story that Furtwangler might be trying to tell, you will get at least something out of it.
    "If we understood the world, we would realize that there is a logic of harmony underlying its manifold apparent dissonances." - Jean Sibelius

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  7. #214
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    If I were to point to one example of Furtwangler’s conducting that has the highest potential to help people appreciate what he was all about, and which exemplifies the strong aesthetic/emotional reaction that his admirers often have to him, it would be the first movement of Brahms’s 4th symphony in the wartime recording. Listen through the dim sound and try to hear the entire thing - it’s only about 12 minutes. Observe how he starts out at a rather hesitant, limping pace; stretching and pulling the evolving threads of melody like clay in his hands. Then, as the movement progresses and the music becomes more complex, there is a gradual unleashing of momentum, often hampered by startling grinds to a halt as if the music is incapable of really taking off. Then we reach the coda which hurls at a breakneck pace into the depths of the abyss and quite literally sounds like the orchestra has been possessed. I wouldn’t be surprised to see sparks shoot from the bows, reeds, and drumsticks in concert. He develops a narrative for the movement, inspires his vision in the players, and tells a true story. I think if you listen with an open mind and imagine the kind of story that Furtwangler might be trying to tell, you will get at least something out of it.
    "He develops a narrative for the movement, inspires his vision in the players, and tells a true story."

    That says it. Notes were never just sounds. There was always something behind them; they always told a story with a beginning, a middle and an end, the end was always in view, and everything built up to it. When I first heard and saw him conduct the last movement of Brahms' 4th in a film clip, the level of intensity to which he brought the orchestra left me almost in shock.
    Last edited by Woodduck; May-19-2020 at 01:29.

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    Senior Member arpeggio's Avatar
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    Question Whose the best??????????????

    Quote Originally Posted by Heck148 View Post

    If you want to hail Furtwangler as the greatest interpreter of Beethoven, and Germanic music, fine....that is certainly your choice, your privilege. to each his own.
    but, do not try to assert that this is some sort of universal truth, some indisputable dogma that must be observed and agreed to by all. It is your opinion, plain and simple.
    for better or worse, the musical world has, at present, moved away from that aesthetic approach. This is undeniable.
    your implication that present day conductors who do not subscribe to the WF ideal are somehow inferior, incompetent, unknowledgeable, whatever, is again, your opinion...Don't purchase their recordings....enjoy your Furtwangler....I'll enjoy my favorites with equal fervor and enthusiasm.
    I agree with Heck148.

    I have learned that it is impossible to state that Johnson was the greatest composer of music in 1862 or Jackson does the best job of conducting measure 69 of the "Second Movement" of Beethoven's Fifth.

    There have been members who have been trying to make this point for years yet it seems as if we are banging our heads on a brick wall. I have had many friends, whose knowledge is far superior to mine, who have left this forum out of frustration.

    Although I still am a member and follow some threads, I have given up participating in 99% of the discussions.

    Who is the greatest Beethoven conductor? I have no idea and I doubt that anyone here can objectively answer that question.

    As a band junkie in my opinion, and it is just an opinion not an objective fact, Fennell is the best band conductor. That does not mean he is a ten and all the other accomplished band conductors are five's. In spite of my opinion he is one of many fine band conductors.

    If members want to spend their time discussing who is the best conductor of whatever is, so be it.

    I pass.
    Last edited by arpeggio; May-19-2020 at 03:06.
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    I have not read the last two days of posts. Really this is getting absurd but I wanted to make one comment. I see neither side nor not, that is not the issue. Furtwangler came from a different time and after WW2, there came an opportunity to use scholarship to reexamine Beethoven the composer. So they took him apart and look into how his symphonies were edited over time and and tried to go back to a more original starting point. So naturally the "literalist" approach took hold and this may be still a concern for many to stay on the path due to economics. It is not easy to simply branch off on uncharted territory if no backing for it. Even Harnoncourt was still trying to redo Beethoven but the question is what works for me. Would Beethoven go into a rage if he heard Furtwangler? Or Toscanini? And, the issue that the music heard cannot be fully realized in the real world.

    But I have not doubt about this: A conductor is the medium: the vessel to bring the music to life, not to mention the orchestra (why does the conductor give his applause to his/her players).

    So even if one is trying to enforce some imaginary idea that Beethoven has this tempo marking/metronome, and indications for how is should be expressed, Beethoven knew he could not convey his intentions as he knew as how can he? If a writer write a book, can he get inside every person head as they read the words of their book? Can he control their thoughts? Are they not allowed to use their background to engage the book in their style.

    So I do not think any style is forever as we tire of sameness then back to something else. I think it is a serious mistake to think of music as outside of us, out there. We are one in each generation: Conductor/orchestra and the audience and then a new generation will come together and the conductor and audience will recreate the music again for this new period. As it already has happened since Beethoven. Sorry I have not read post but I feel strongly about this point.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Allegro Con Brio View Post
    Is anybody saying this? That is a total straw man.
    Definitely been implied by some posts. Of course it will be denied by those posters of course.

    But just get back to the music. I put on Furty's Beethoven 3rd last night and again was less than overwhelmed by it. The first movement lacked fire - it was not allegro con brio by a long chalk. The funeral march was very slow indeed - more akin to Bruckner than Beethoven - but came off in its way. The third movement was frankly tame when it should have been fiery. I went to bed then but didn't honestly see what everyone is raving about. This is not a straw man - it is Furty with the VPO btw. No doubt someone will come back and say I am not one of the initiated!
    Last edited by DavidA; May-19-2020 at 06:46.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Definitely been implied by some posts. Of course it will be denied by those posters of course.

    But just get back to the music. I put on Furty's Beethoven 3rd last night and again was less than overwhelmed by it. The first movement lacked fire - it was not allegro con brio by a long chalk. The funeral march was very slow indeed - more akin to Bruckner than Beethoven - but came off in its way. The third movement was frankly tame when it should have been fiery. I went to bed then but didn't honestly see what everyone is raving about. This is not a straw man - it is Furty with the VPO btw. No doubt someone will come back and say I am not one of the initiated!
    He makes the curious decision to go slow in the opening movement, not one conductor will have the best of everything.

    His Leonore no.3 is amazing though, extremely explosive; wished he used some of that fire for the Eroica.

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    Furtwangler: He's very good when you listen to him. I'm listening to his Brahms Fourth/Berlin 1943, and it's very good.

    https://youtu.be/9I-Ovumi9mA



    A viewer comment: "This performance is simply insane. The passion, the unforced, organic intensity of Furtwangler's style is unsurpassed. One of the finest recordings of classical music I've heard. Thanks for uploading this!"
    Last edited by millionrainbows; May-19-2020 at 14:49.

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  17. #220
    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Furtwangler: He's very good when you listen to him. I'm listening to his Brahms Fourth/Berlin 1943, and it's very good.

    https://youtu.be/9I-Ovumi9mA



    A viewer comment: "This performance is simply insane. The passion, the unforced, organic intensity of Furtwangler's style is unsurpassed. One of the finest recordings of classical music I've heard. Thanks for uploading this!"
    Question: what do you do other than listen to him?

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    This performance expresses the terror of the day...Berlin in 1943. Absolutely withering in it’s intensity. Thanks for posting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Question: what do you do other than listen to him?
    I talk to him in midnight seances by candlelight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Bean View Post
    This performance expresses the terror of the day...Berlin in 1943. Absolutely withering in it’s intensity. Thanks for posting.
    I'm impressed by the quality of the orchestra. The intonation is spot-on. There are some tutti horn parts in there that could very easily have been botched, but sound fine. Also, I'm surprised at the good fidelity. I wonder, was this a studio recording?

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I'm impressed by the quality of the orchestra. The intonation is spot-on. There are some tutti horn parts in there that could very easily have been botched, but sound fine. Also, I'm surprised at the good fidelity. I wonder, was this a studio recording?
    Recorded live in concert in June 1943. You can hear the audience at times. And yes, the Berlin Philharmonic is certainly impressive here, playing as if their lives depended on it. My heavens, listen to the end of the 2nd movement...astounding!
    Last edited by Gray Bean; May-19-2020 at 17:10.

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  25. #225
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidA View Post
    Definitely been implied by some posts. Of course it will be denied by those posters of course.
    People hear what they want to hear. I think certain people are so insecure that when confronted by an opinion contrary to their own that they imagine the "offender" to be putting them down, insulting them, declaring their own opinion to be definitive when in fact the "offender" is making it clear that it is his opinion and not some sort of immutable truth. Such a thing is nonsensical in art, where the whole point is subjective enjoyment.

    When I can quote back to a poster demonstrating I am saying literally the exact opposite of his imaginings of what I am saying, that is when you can plainly see there is insecure, defensive projection going on.

    What's most important is not only that we are all entitled to our opinions but that everyone has choice and exposure to explore and listen as they wish. I made it very clear and have done so in the past that I expose myself to a wide variety of styles. I want to learn everything I can in my short time on this earth. I may not like them all, but I will listen and encourage others to do so. I also stated that I like several of Toscanini's Beethoven recordings, just not as much as Furtwangler's, but I wish there were more Toscanini's today. I'd surely attend their concerts!
    Last edited by TurnaboutVox; May-20-2020 at 00:42. Reason: Housekeeping

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