These classic October 1944 performances of Bruckner's 8th (VPO) and 9th (BPO) are brought together here, at budget price, on Archipel. The remastering, apparantly from the orginial tapes, is excellent. Certainly the sound is among the best of the wartime Furtwangler recordings I have heard. I know little about this budget German label (no notes at all on any of their releases) and their releases are definetly hit and miss. For instance, the Furtwangler Bruckner 4th is almost unlistenable; the Bruckner 7th is adequate (a fantastic performance) and the wonderful 1949 live Bruckner 8th marginal. In any event, don't miss this while it's available. These 1944 performances, shortly before Furtwangler fled to Switzerland, are simply overpowering.
I always have mixed feelings when listening to wartime Furtwangler performances of Beethoven, Brahms, and Bruckner. Not so much because of the sometimes marginal sound (if you know the pieces somehow the mind seems to fill in the gaps!) but rather the circumstances of the recordings. With me, I always feel like I'm sitting in the audience, with the coughs right near me.I also think that if I were there and had a pistol, more than likely the person sitting next to me would deserve a bullet in the head. The music, however, is simply fantastic. Furtwangler, at a minimum, allowed his great talent to be used by the Nazis for propaganda purposes. What this teaches me is that simply because a person is a great artist, it does not mean that person has great character. So I think what we are left with is the music, which in this case is extraordinary.