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Furtwangler Auf Tournee

Release Date: 11/10/2009 
Label:  Tahra   Catalog #: 2007   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus MozartJohannes Brahms
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MOZART Symphony No. 40. BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 Wilhelm Furtwängler, cond; Berlin PO TAHRA FURT 2007, mono (66:58) Live: Wiesbaden 6/10/1949

Both of these performances have been in circulation quite widely (as has the third work from the same concert, the set of three preludes from Pfitzner’s Palestrina ). Tahra itself has issued the Mozart and Brahms earlier. But the big news here is a new Read more mastering, with sound that is much fuller and more colorful than any prior release, including Tahra’s own. They do not identify the source (perhaps the German radio archives?), but whatever the reason, the impact of these performances is far greater here than they have been before.

The Mozart is typical of Furtwängler—big-boned, warm, flexible, with an orchestral sound built from the bottom up. It is not, at least to these ears, heavy-handed in any way, but those who are wedded to the more modern approach to Mozart performance are likely to find it too weighty. Furtwängler earlier performed and recorded the G-Minor Symphony in the version with clarinets, but here does not use them.

The Brahms is a powerful experience, if you are willing to accept the modifications of tempo and pulse that are the conductor’s signature. This is massive Brahms, with weight, dramatic drive, and impassioned energy. Five Furtwängler performances of this piece have survived (two of them from the same set of performances in 1948, one on October 22, the other two days later). The famous wartime (1943) performance is the most intense, but all of them are similar. In previous incarnations, this Berlin Philharmonic tour performance sounded a bit tired, but with the cleaned up, brighter sound on this remastering it comes alive and sweeps the listener along with its sense of inevitability. Even a few ensemble errors from the BPO don’t get in the way.

Furtwängler collectors will want this disc; I hope Tahra can perform the same sonic miracles on the Pfitzner preludes that opened this concert. ( Till Eulenspiegel was also played on the program, but for some reason no recording of it has come down to us.)

FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

Symphony no 40 in G minor, K 550 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1788; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 6/10/1949 
Venue:  Live Wiesbaden 
Symphony no 4 in E minor, Op. 98 by Johannes Brahms
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884-1885; Austria 
Date of Recording: 6/10/1949 
Venue:  Live Wiesbaden 

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