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Beethoven: Symphony No 7 In A Major / Furtwängler, Et Al


Release Date: 11/06/2007 
Label:  Opus Kura   Catalog #: 2068   Spars Code: ADD 
Composer:  Ludwig van BeethovenJohann Strauss Jr.Felix MendelssohnRichard Wagner,   ... 
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BEETHOVEN Symphony No. 7. J. STRAUSS II Emperor Waltz. WEBER Oberon: Overture. MENDELSSOHN Hebrides Overture. WAGNER Die Meistersinger: Prelude Wilhelm Furtwängler, cond; Vienna PO OPUS KURA 2068 Read more (77:46)


Opus Kura is a Japanese label, and what it offers on this disc are new transfers of EMI studio recordings from 1949 and 1950. These records are well known to Furtwängler collectors, and for them the question is whether these improve on various EMI releases over the years. After some serious A-B comparisons, both of short segments and entire pieces, the answer for me is “yes.” I must immediately add, however, that tastes in transfer techniques and approaches differ widely, and others might disagree.


The significant difference seems to me to be in the area of mid-high and mid-bass frequencies, which Opus Kura seems to have boosted when compared to the EMI issues. EMI’s transfers of this material sound peaky in the midrange, and lack impact at both ends of the sonic spectrum. These transfers, through whatever means they used (nothing is revealed in the notes), bring out more punch in the highs and a bit more ping in the bass end. I find here an added impact for performances that always seemed to me to be among Furtwängler’s least powerful. But others might object to the somewhat artificial and slightly edgy sound to the upper strings. On brief A-B comparisons, in fact, that was my reaction; but as I listened to the entire performances, my ear adjusted and I found this version preferable in terms of its visceral impact.


Even with the improvement, this Beethoven Seventh does not rise to the top of Furtwängler’s recorded performances of this work. The 1953 Berlin performance, issued by DG, is probably the best overall representation of the conductor’s powerful way with this symphony, though there is something to be said for the frenetic wartime performance on Music & Arts, and even his final recorded performance from the 1954 Salzburg Festival issued in superb monaural sound by Orfeo (C293921B). The 1953 Berlin reading is on DG 427401, coupled with a weighty but energetic Beethoven Eighth; the wartime Seventh is coupled with an equally hair-raising wartime Fifth on DG 427775.


The same description of Opus Kura’s transfer approach applies to the short filler pieces here. The excellent bilingual notes claim that the last part of the Oberon Overture is from a different take used by EMI in its LP and CD issues, though I find it hard to hear a meaningful difference in execution or approach. I find the Emperor Waltz a bit too driven for the spirit of the music, but the Weber, Mendelssohn, and Wagner performances are masterly.


FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 7 in A major, Op. 92 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1811-1812; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1950 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
2.
Kaiser-Walzer, Op. 437 by Johann Strauss Jr.
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1950 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
3.
Hebrides Overture, in B minor Op. 26 "Fingal's Cave" by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1832; Rome, Italy 
Date of Recording: 1949 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
4.
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Act 1 Prelude by Richard Wagner
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1867; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1949 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 
5.
Oberon, J 306: Overture by Carl Maria von Weber
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825-1826; Dresden, Germany 
Date of Recording: 1950 
Notes: This selection is a mono recording. 

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