Beethoven’s 9th Symphony remains to this day the only work that does not belong to the Bayreuth canon – “Wagner’s Ten”, so to speak – and yet has nevertheless been performed on the Green Hill along with them. Both within and without the Bayreuth walls, the performance history of this symphony is associated with no conductor more than with Wilhelm Furtwängler. The opening performance of the first post-War Bayreuth Festival in 1951 was of Beethoven’s Ninth under Furtwängler, and there already exists an Orfeo release based on the original radio broadcast. Several technical hurdles had to be overcome before the performance of 1954 could also be released on CD, however, for none of the accessible sources could be preparedRead more satisfactorily without employing the most modern mastering possibilities. The result is undoubtedly a vital document: both for those interested in the history of the Bayreuth Festival and for those who are enthused by the concurrent continuity and constant change that is a hallmark of Wilhelm Furtwängler’s style of interpretation. This Ninth would be his farewell to Bayreuth and was in fact one of his very last concerts anywhere, for it took place just three months before his death. Its interpretation is more direct and less ceremonial than in earlier recordings under this great conductor. In the last bars of this symphony’s famous choral finale he achieves a climax not just through his scorching pace, but also through a well-nigh breathless intensification of the musical content. The Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra and the solo quartet (led by the Dutch soprano Gré Brouwenstijn, here in magnificent voice) follow the maestro’s beat even here with an unmistakeable sense of tension and the utmost, unrelenting attention. It is surely herein that lies the secret of the fascination that Furtwängler exudes to this day. As perhaps no other conductor he always understood how to avoid the routine in the works that he conducted so many times. Instead he was time and again able to summon up and maintain an awareness of them as something extraordinary and unique: for himself, his fellow musicians and his listeners. Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 9 in D minor, Op. 125 "Choral"by Ludwig van Beethoven Performer:
Gré Brouwenstijn (Soprano),
Ira Malaniuk (Alto),
Wolfgang Windgassen (Tenor),
Ludwig Weber (Bass)
Bayreuth Festival Orchestra,
Bayreuth Festival Chorus
Period: Classical Written: 1822-1824; Vienna, Austria Date of Recording: 1954 Venue: Live Bayreuth Festival, Germany Length: 75 Minutes 11 Secs. Language: German
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Furtwangler never disappoints with Beethoven's 9tApril 18, 2013By m. jefferson (birmingham, AL)See All My Reviews"Please let me say from the beginning of this review that I always look forward with anticipated glee when I see of hear of a new rendition comes out concerning a new recording of a Beethoven symphony from long ago and especially if the conductor of the orchestra is Walter, Klemperer or Furtwangler; and doubly excited with glee if the recording is of the 9th Symphony. For some reason that I cannot explain Furtwangler seems to never disappoint the listener with his interpretation of these symphonies. He doesn't disappoint at all in this recording but I do must say that the 1951 Bayreuth Festival recording is just a little bit better. To be honest, I bought this recording because it was another Furtwangler recording, not knowing if the recording itself was good or not. But it was; it really doesn't have that certain sound that recordings from 60 - 70 years ago had. I believe that, with Furtwangler's death just around the corner meant that his health wasn't good and it probably effected this fine performance. This was on 9 August, '54, and he died in late November of 1954. Regardless, though, this is a very good rendition to own, for a novice of Beethoven symphonies or someone like myself who already owns at least 5 different recording by Wilhelm Furtwangler performing the 9th. I do believe you will fine this an excellent recording."Report Abuse
A commendable restoration.April 9, 2013By Jon Krueger (Jackson, MI)See All My Reviews"Given the quality of the original source material, this production is quite excellent, although for those who are expecting high fidelity, you won't get it. Still, it is a performance with many felicities. It also shows what we Furtwaengler fans have known all along, that he was still near the top of his game when the then rudimentary medical assistance he received caused hearing loss. Outstanding."Report Abuse
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