Furtwängler: Best of the World War II Legacy*4 CDs Special Price* Box set
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These are the best World War II performances of Beethoven's symphonies under the baton of Furtwngler. 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.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
Most recent customer reviews
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
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 morePublished on June 8 2003
After reading the reviews rapturously describing the quality of the sound on these restorations, I'm wondering if I need new equipment! Read morePublished on March 17 2003 by Timothy Dougal
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 morePublished on Oct. 17 2002 by W. Hill
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 morePublished on July 13 2002
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 morePublished on April 18 2001 by TC
I love the emotion that Furtwangler ingeniously-exudes in these priceless National-Socialist era recordings. Read morePublished on Jan. 6 2001
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 morePublished on Sept. 19 2000 by nd bds