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George Szell was capable of conducting well, at times, yet I often find his conducting too stiff, such as in his Haydn Symphonies (& particularly his set of "Paris" Symphonies), for example. & it both surprises and perplexes me that others, who are bigger Szell fans than I am, either don't hear this stiffness, or don't seem to mind it.
Don't you mean the *London* symphonies? AFAIK, Szell only recorded a couple of the Paris group.

But I agree about Szell's Haydn. I wouldn't necessarily call it "stiff", but to my ears, it's utterly lacking in charm - Haydn played through clenched teeth.
 

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??? Why do you assume that those conductor/performers who do not take the Furtwangler approach are "technicians" who eschews "heart and emotion"??
Again - precision, accurate execution in no way equates with stiff, unexpressive, stiff or dull performance.
It's a strawman that deserves to be ignored. Lesser performers (and I am certainly among them) have to concentrate on the technical aspects of playing and performing, because the first responsibility of any performer is to execute the notes that are written on the page. If you can't play the right notes, in tune, with the proper rhythm, and at a coherent tempo, there's little point to looking past the notes to find "heart and emotion", because the audience isn't going to notice - they're going to hear only the technical flaws.
 

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" In an age of note-perfect digital renditions, what's most striking is Furtwängler's willingness-and his musicians' willingness-to sacrifice precision for the sake of passion.
One can't sacrifice what one does not possess. It's one thing to make a conscious choice to "let 'er rip"; it's quite another to mask one's technical deficiencies by laying on emotion with a trowel.
 

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How much technical imperfection impacts your enjoyment is really entirely subjective to your tastes as a listener.
Of course, and no one claims otherwise. There's a reason why some people adore Schnabel's Beethoven, and others can't listen to it for more than 30 seconds.
 

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I don't think so - the implication seems to be that accurate playing, precision, necessarily excludes expressive or passionate presentation....my own long experience tells me this is not so. what is the basis for this implication??
It's a strawman because it's a non-provable statement that someone wishes to use to argue that technical perfection is antithetical to musical expression.
 
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