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Thread: Is George Szell one of your favorite conductors?

  1. #151
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    [QUOTE=Merl;2111958]

    . . . .. .. . ............. [.. /QUOTE]
    I think "fanny" means something rather different in Britain than it does in the USA

  2. #152
    Senior Member SanAntone's Avatar
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    Is George Szell one of your favorite conductors?

    No.

  3. #153
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    Is George Szell one of your favorite conductors?

    Absolutely Yes. In fact I would say Szell is my favorites conductor
    Last edited by FrankinUsa; Dec-01-2021 at 15:49. Reason: Added correction

  4. #154
    Senior Member RogerWaters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    1) I never said that music contains philosophical truth. That is a distortion of my description of a perfect performance existing in the abstract that the performer is trying to achieve. And the distortion is a sophomoric attempt by a certain poster to “win” points.

    2) I never said that one conductor has possession of the “truth” and others don’t. I have said that he and others seek the inner depth of a musical score as a philosophy, and certain others treat the score as self-evident. This is not a news flash.

    3) I don’t care what “problem” you have with me. You’re not going to bully me on this forum. Why don’t you stick to discussion of the music? The simplest way to avoid straw man accusations is to quote someone directly as opposed to putting your own self-serving spin on their argument.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    But that’s not my claim.
    With all due respect, you do not have enough of a sound philosophical basis for your thoughts (this is why you feel everyone misinterprets you - it's because you don't use language consistently, as we’ve argued about in the past) to not rub people up the wrong way when you post such loaded responses all the time whenever a thread pops up celebrating a conductor who isn't Fartwangler.

    I was looking forward to reading about Szell, not Brahmsianhorn or Fartwangler.

    As for Szell, he was great no question. Some similarities with Karajan in precision and 'glossy' sound but Szell's sound was better overall I think in avoiding the 'Karajan soup'. His interpretations were often very fine indeed, but wouldn't quite be my first choice most of the time. He certainly wasn't a mere time-beater.
    Last edited by RogerWaters; Dec-02-2021 at 12:14.

  5. #155
    Senior Member hammeredklavier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerWaters View Post
    whenever a thread pops up celebrating a conductor who isn't Fartwangler.
    I was looking forward to reading about Szell, not Brahmsianhorn or Fartwangler.
    And now you're using this as an excuse to do your favorite name-calling. A disgrace to the (arguably) greatest conductor of the German repertoire.

    Quote Originally Posted by RogerWaters View Post
    I can tell I’m going to get the word ‘furtwangler’ thrown at me
    Yes, you know it and you enjoy it; gets you more chances to call him ‘fartwangler’.
    Last edited by hammeredklavier; Dec-02-2021 at 13:36.

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  7. #156
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hammeredklavier View Post
    A disgrace to the (arguably) greatest conductor of the German repertoire.
    Can't make everybody happy, but that statement comes across to me as a disgrace to all those great conductors of the German repertoire i hear as better than Furtwangler, like Walter, Bohm, Klemperer, Karajan. I hear Furtwangler as more mechanical than Szell, but that's just me.
    "But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying..." Peter Sinfield

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    I hear Furtwangler as more mechanical than Szell, but that's just me.
    I think this is a very uncommon use of the association of "mechanical". There can be hardly any doubt that e.g. Furtwangler is far more flexible in tempo and generally more unpredictable. You are of course free to dis/like either of them but to claim that "mechanical" would characterize a "wayward" conductor better than a rather rigid one, is not very plausible.

  9. #158
    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kreisler jr View Post
    I think this is a very uncommon use of the association of "mechanical". There can be hardly any doubt that e.g. Furtwangler is far more flexible in tempo and generally more unpredictable. You are of course free to dis/like either of them but to claim that "mechanical" would characterize a "wayward" conductor better than a rather rigid one, is not very plausible.
    By mechanical I include his accelerandos/ ritardandos, dynamics, etc. I don't hear as much phrasing of lines as in many conductors. He is like a robot machine to me mimicking human emotion, in general.
    Last edited by Phil loves classical; Dec-02-2021 at 14:54.
    "But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying..." Peter Sinfield

  10. #159
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil loves classical View Post
    By mechanical I include his accelerandos/ ritardandos, dynamics, etc. I don't hear as much phrasing of lines as in many conductors. He is like a robot machine to me mimicking human emotion, in general.
    I think I get what you're saying. For me the problem with Furtwängler is how predictable his choices are. I was taken with some of his recordings on the first listen, but found for me that they didn't wear well. He always does the same things: brass get louder, go faster // strings play big melody, go slower // it's softer, go slower // woodwinds doing stuff, again, ugh??? I DUNNO I guess twiddle thumbs until brass loud go faster.

    That for me summarizes Furtwängler's playbook.

    I guess the words I would use to describe how Furtwängler's conducting sounds to me: artificial and contrived (and also weirdly sloppy in terms of ensemble and intonation.) It does sort of resemble how one might program MIDI to attempt making it sound musical.

    I'm well aware many love what Furtwängler did, and this includes many musicians I admire. But I'm not a fan.

    Give me Szell any day.
    Last edited by Knorf; Dec-02-2021 at 20:28. Reason: missin' important stuff

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  12. #160
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    This is one of those things where even Furtwangler detractors will agree that he was very subjective and in the moment, to the point that his various performances varied widely, even those made in back to back days. I mean that was the whole point. He left things for the inspiration of the moment. Whereas with Szell everything sounds pre-scripted and doesn't vary much from performance to performance. Aside from decisions over tempo, I don't hear Szell doing very much interpretively.

    Now, if you are going to say that the things Furtwangler did sounded intuitively "correct" - a sentiment I agree with - and that it therefore sounded obvious and predictable, that would be an interesting way of putting it. I guess the question becomes what are you looking for when you listen? Furtwangler himself said that he saw his interpretations as "honest." He was not trying to mangle the music in any way. Maybe that's boring to some.

  13. #161
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    To all who say they prefer Furtwängler over other options, who can argue with that? I won't. I just don't share that preference.

    What I object to are statements that Furtwängler's tempo fluctuations and other liberties represent anything more inherently or objectively "intuitive," "honest," or "deeply felt." That they do not. If you like those choices, great, who can argue. But others are not necessarily less or more of those same qualities just for making different choices.

    I also object to not-Furtwängler being labelled derisively as "pre-scripted," because in general it's all decided in advance. Everything! That's how professionals do it.

    For professionals, it is always about very minute, careful, thoughtful, and repetitive preparation. Szell, Reiner, Karajan, Haitink, Skrowaczewski, Chailly, Klemperer, Muti, Jansons, Berglund, MTT, Abbado, Bernstein, Alsop, Maazel: all of them. Some of their choices work for me, other don't. Furtwängler's mostly don't. YMMV. But leaving too much to chance (unless you're John Cage) or actual, in fact spontaneity is a recipe for disaster. Furtwängler admittedly flirted with the edge of this, which is why so much of what he did to my ears sounds really, unlistenably sloppy. But his interpetive choices over the years are actually far too consistent to not have been studied. Relying on the moment means you lean most heavily on old, well-established habits, whether good or bad.

    "From the heart," "intuitive," "spontaneous": that's all an illusion. You will never really know from a performance or recording whether the conductor adored the work they're performing, or detested it. That's called being a professional. But everything is prepared in advance; that's why we have rehearsals. In general Furtwängler created a myth at odds with the reality.

    Mostly what the musicians are doing in performance in their head is counting a lot and hoping they don't screw it up. How much emotion do you bring to the table, when you're focused and concentrating on simple counting? Here's the rub: if you're not sure what the conductor is going to do, because you haven't rehearsed enough, you have to concentrate and count more. Musicians play more confidentally and boldly when they're well rehearsed, and play it safe and spend even more time counting when they're not.

    In short, the Furtwängler myth of getting more spontaneous performances from fewer rehearsals is total, abject nonsense on multiple levels. Far more was studied and clearly pre-arranged than the myth allows.

    You know what spontaneous (i.e. under-rehearsed) performances sound like, even of standard repertoire? Timid, under-played, careful, boring, sloppy crapola.
    Last edited by Knorf; Dec-02-2021 at 20:28. Reason: Tpyos R Us

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  15. #162
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    Never said and have never read that Furtwängler performances were under-rehearsed. But it is well-known he took liberties in the moment and by his own admission left things for live inspiration. He didn’t care if this led to occasional ensemble inaccuracies. Whereas with Szell it sounds to my ear like he is putting a great amount of emphasis on precision and clarity, to the detriment of a feeling of inspiration and spontaneity. To each their own. Just compare video of the two men conducting, and it’s obvious that one valued clarity and one was seeking something else.

    I’m sure members of community orchestras are thinking mainly if not exclusively about counting and being together. The members of the Berlin Philharmonic, at least in Furtwängler’s day, were interested in something more.

  16. #163
    Senior Member Knorf's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brahmsianhorn View Post
    Just compare video of the two men conducting, and it’s obvious that one valued clarity and one was seeking something else.
    That's fair.

    I’m sure members of community orchestras are thinking mainly if not exclusively about counting and being together. The members of the Berlin Philharmonic, at least in Furtwängler’s day, were interested in something more.
    Nope. This is false. You have to count like crazy; the other option is screwing up.

    There is literature about the importance of counting in the performance of music going back to the Baroque period, if not earlier. All professional musicians are counting more or less all the time, I guarantee it.

    And the Berliner Philharmoniker was never, ever any different, because they're all just humans, too. Furtwängler wasn't some magical fairy who could make people play together with nothing more than his vague twirling gestures. It's just a fact that the more uncertain you are about what's happening on the podium, the more carefully you must count. It's true now and it was undoubtedly true then.

    Learn to separate myth from reality.
    Last edited by Knorf; Dec-02-2021 at 19:58. Reason: Tpyos

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  18. #164
    Senior Member HenryPenfold's Avatar
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    I bigly enjoy the Furtwängler discussions, especially when they are so well-argued as the posts on this thread are.

    I have no dog in this fight, but I will say that I have had two road to Damascus moments in my journey through classical music and they both concern WF.

    I had a huge 'Wagner moment' when Tristan finally snapped into focus and I realised it to to be the incredible experience that the work can be (listening to the 1952 London studio performance); and secondly, I experienced a total Zen-like transcendental out of body experience during a listen the 1954 Lucern Festival performance of Beethoven 9.

    As I said, I have no dog in this fight and I rarely talk about Furtwängler or even own many recordings, but there is something spooky about his art ..............
    Last edited by HenryPenfold; Dec-02-2021 at 20:00. Reason: concern, NOT concert - flippin' smell cheque!
    “The special mark of the modern world is not that it is sceptical, but that it is dogmatic without knowing it”

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  20. #165
    Senior Member Brahmsianhorn's Avatar
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    It’s not a myth. By definition the tempo fluctuations required feeling the changes together in the moment, and they weren’t done the same way every performance.

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