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Furtwängler: Best of the World War II Legacy*4 CDs Special Price* [Box set]

Wilhelm - conductor, BPO, VPO Furtwängler Audio CD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 57.12 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Disc: 1
1. Symphony #3 In Eb, Op. 55: I. Allegro con Brio - Wilhelm Furtwangler
Disc: 2
1. Sym No.5 in c, Op.67: I. Allegro Con Brio

Product Description

Amazon.ca

These may be the most gripping performances of Beethoven's symphonies you'll ever hear. No, not necessarily the most enjoyable or even the most accurate, but gripping--to say the least. In these wartime performances of Symphonies Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9, Wilhelm Furtwängler is at his most expressive, angry self. Conducting six of the world's greatest symphonies for audiences in Nazi Germany, Furtwängler has an inner turmoil that seems to shoot straight through his baton. He drives the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics to the edge of disaster, but miraculously they keep up--rising to the occasion. The Eroica and the Ninth are particularly emotion-filled; the latter features the great Bruno Kittel Choir and the BPO in fine form, but they--like everyone else here--are overshadowed by the conductor's bipolar mood swings and furious pacings. Brace yourself. These are shocking, awesome, thought-provoking performances that--thanks to a great remastering--have never sounded better. --Jason Verlinde

Product Description

These are the best World War II performances of Beethoven's symphonies under the baton of Furtw„ngler. Previously released versions on our label were acclaimed in Fanfare, American Record Guide, Pulse!, Absolute Sound, Diapason, Musica, and numerous other journals. Symphony No. 9 has been completely re-mastered for this edition by Aaron Z. Snyder from a new source and sounds better than any prior issue.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal Historic Set For Collectors June 10 2004
Format:Audio CD
These are phenomenal examples of Furtwangler's art in very fine transfers. I can't imagine any serious Beethoven collection being without them. With that said, these are all live concert readings in fairly rough sound, despite M&A's fine efforts. These readings really put most of their counterparts in EMI's Furtwangler Beethoven set in the shade. However, for the average listener, it will be necessary to come to terms with your willingness to choose between the inspired readings here versus the better sound of later Furtwangler performances elsewhere. Here is a brief summary of this set's contents, plus a few recommended alternatives.
Disc 1: The 1944 VPO Eroica is an incredibly white-hot reading - quite simply one of the greatest Beethoven performances ever recorded. I first owned this on a miserably transferred Vox Turnabout LP that was so sharp that the Eroica was virtually in E major instead of E flat. M & A's transfer is correctly pitched and is the finest I have heard. However, I think that most listeners may derive more pleasure from the beautiful sound of the 1952 BPO version found on Tahra 1054/7. The performance is less intense, but the sonics are vastly superior. It is also far more committed than the studio reading on EMI.
This 1943 BPO Coriolan Overture is the greatest statement of the score ever to reach my ears. What extraordinary passion and commitment! The 1944 VPO Leonore Overture is superb - it's even finer than the reading in the 1950 complete Fidelio with Patzak & Flagstad.
Disc 2: This 1943 BPO 5th has been my benchmark ever since first hearing it on a Unicorn LP. The crescendo from the Scherzo into the Finale here has to be heard to be believed - it is one of the grandest moments in all of recorded Beethoven.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
This is the cream of the crop of Furtwangler's wartime recordings. As many other reviewers have said, there is a white hot intensity here that has not been equalled by anyone in the sixty years since. However, what I would like to point out is that here you not only have great emotional expressiveness (more like an emotional explosion, especially in the Ninth), but you have great nobility and spirituality, in a way that only Furtwangler could achieve. I would like to specially mention the recordings of Eroica, the Coriolan Overture, and the Ninth in this regard. The first movement of Eroica is so perfectly paced here. Instead of the rather indiscriminate Allegro con Brio of Toscanini and most other conductors, here we have a deep, thoughtful performance, that starts at a deliberate pace, and gradually accelerates to a brilliant, thrilling climax. Also this is by far the most powerful Funeral March that I have ever heard. After I had listened to it when I first got this set, someone noticed that I looked upset; when I took a breath, I noticed not only that I was very depressed, but that my teeth hurt: the performance was so powerfully tragic that I had been grating my teeth, and was holding back tears! The highlight of this set has to be the wartime Ninth. Already the tone is set at the beginning of the first movement, with sort of a haze, and with strings playing descending fifths once in a while: as Furtwangler himself observed, what we hear is the primeval chaos. Furtwangler's primary interpretive tool here is the choice of the tempo, which gradually picks up until the theme burts forth with great force. The third movement is so beautiful. Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful stuff June 22 2004
Format:Audio CD
I have not made my way through the entire set yet, but am moved to write about 7th and 9th.
The first movement of the 7th opens with tremendous energy. The second movement seems to stalk the nervously coughing audience, dancing its beautiful, ominous way among them.
The first time I heard the 9th was on my commute home. The third movement is sublime, heartbreaking -- I was just not ready for the affect it had on me. The music has such a gentle, compassionate, at times tragic voice, ultimately building in power to remind you that through the music you are touching the infinite, both terrible and beautiful beyond comprehension, and then returning to gentleness again after revealing the weight of its truth.
And then there's the historical context. I think that anyone who wants to gain insight into Germany, its extremes, brilliance, capacities for ecstacy and darkness, could do worse than experience this recording. I feel that I understand the country and its soul better for having heard this material.
The sound quality on the 7th and 9th is something you adapt to. For some reason the Germans taped with a high recording level so that the loud passages distorted. The sound on the 5th is much better. That said, Maggi Payne and M&A have done a superb job of reconstructing the sound from these early tape recordings. I'm very grateful to them for doing this important work.
As an aside, it's interesting to read Furtwangler's response to those advocating a literal approach to interpreting Beethoven in the accompanying notes.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The most important recordings ever made
These symphonies are the central works in classical music - and these recordings the greatest performances of them. These are the most important sounds ever committed to record.
Published on June 8 2004 by Martin Holland
5.0 out of 5 stars probably the best
In my quest to perfect "Eroica" I think I've found it and this is the one. I cannot say much about other symphonies on this CD since I haven't listened enough. Read more
Published on June 8 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Performances, But Really Noisy #4,6,7&9!
After reading the reviews rapturously describing the quality of the sound on these restorations, I'm wondering if I need new equipment! Read more
Published on March 17 2003 by Timothy Dougal
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb vintage performances from WWII Berlin
I have listened to quite a few cycles of Beethoven's symphonies over the years, but I must say that there is something truly special about Furtwangler's. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2002 by W. Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest Recording Ever Made.
Since I was a kid, I could hear people speak about Furtwangler's wartime performances (notably the Berlin 9th) with whispers, and I knew they must be something special. Read more
Published on July 13 2002 by "moe_d_anglais"
5.0 out of 5 stars TRIUMPHANT
Ferocious, passionate, desperate, monumental... these are just a few of the words I would use to describe the "Furtwangler Conducts Beethoven" series offered here by Amazon. Read more
Published on April 18 2001 by TC
5.0 out of 5 stars A first-rate piece of musical history.
I love the emotion that Furtwangler ingeniously-exudes in these priceless National-Socialist era recordings. Read more
Published on Jan. 6 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars greatest of all time
i've listened over and over to these performances, and they are the greatest of all the many beethoven symphony recordings i've heard over the years. Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2000 by nd bds
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate
I'd just like to add my voice to the already eloquent five-star chorus. I don't know if there is such a thing, but to me this is the single greatest set of orchestral recordings... Read more
Published on Aug. 14 2000 by Joel Rafi Zabor
5.0 out of 5 stars No option for six stars..so I'll settle for five
If this is not a five star set, then you should deduct two stars from every other recording on Amazon. Read more
Published on June 3 2000 by M. Welch
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