Classical Bash

Friday, November 11, 2005


No, we haven't gone away. We've just been busy with other things.

I, personally have been listening to some of the old Furtwangler recordings that Jeff loaned me, and I must say, I am impressed. After listeing to all those old Toscanini recordings, with his riveting attention to rhythm and detail, the emotional, even subjective feel of Wilhelm Furtwangler is a revelation. I never knew a conductor could break so many rules and still produce such an amazing peformance.

My favorite Furtwangler recording to date is the 1950's recording of the Beethoven 9th Symphony with the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. WOW! The man begins on a loose, casual note, but as the performance continues he tightens control until you're emotionally exhausted. Oddly enough this was a technique that he brought to every piece he conducted. While
Toscanini produced an emotionally exhausting experience through an almost anal retentive control, Furtwangler allows his emotions to show. He infuses each and every passage with what he feels to be the proper emotion for that particular time and passage. Rather like the late Leonard Bernstein and his approach to the Mahler 9th.

If you're into historical performances, I highly, (highly!) recommend recordings by Wilhelm Furtwangler. His control of the orchestra is phenomenal and the fact that he wears his passion on his sleeve is an extra added bonus.