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Four Maestri In 1926: Toscanini, Mengelberg, Walter, Furtwangler

Strauss / Beethoven / Toscanini / Furtwangler
Release Date: 06/11/2013 
Label:  Opus Kura   Catalog #: 2105   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Felix MendelssohnHector BerliozRichard StraussLudwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Arturo ToscaniniWillem MengelbergBruno WalterWilhelm Furtwängler
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mono 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



FOUR MAESTRI IN 1926 1 Arturo Toscanini, 2 Willem Mengelberg, 3 Bruno Walter, 4 Wilhelm Furtwängler, cond; 1 New York PO; 2 Concertgebouw O; 3 Royal PO; 4 Berlin PO Read more OPUS KURA 2105 (70:19)


MENDELSSOHN 1 Midsummer Night’s Dream: Scherzo and Nocturne. BERLIOZ 2 La damnation de Faust: Ballet des Sylphes and Rákóczi March. R. STRAUSS 3 Don Juan. BEETHOVEN 2 Coriolan Overture. 4 Symphony No. 5


Experienced collectors of historic recordings already know what to expect here. As always, Opus Kura provides transfers of 78rpm discs that are distinguished on the one hand by the vivid immediacy and depth of sound, and on the other by a maximum of hiss, crackle, rumble, and blasting, due to a minimalist approach to sound remastering. What your tolerance is for such forms of noise for the sake of gaining a totally uncompromised audio signal may differ radically from someone else’s. If you’ve not heard an Opus Kura release before, I suggest first buying a single CD of a favorite historic recording to see if the label’s approach to sound reproduction is to your taste.


As for the performances themselves, they are all deservedly renowned. For me, Willem Mengelberg’s performances of the excerpts from La damnation de Faust and Bruno Walter’s of Don Juan are the prize items, both being characterized by exceptional lyricism, elegance of phrasing, and keen ears for orchestral tone colors. Mengelberg’s reading of the Coriolan Overture is a good one, but not quite on the same plane. Given Toscanini’s reputation as an exacting disciplinarian and perfectionist, I was surprised to hear a cracked horn note in the Mendelssohn Nocturne that apparently either escaped his keen ear or else was tolerated for some now unknown reason. Otherwise, these MSND excerpts are a bit hard-driven and generally not considered to rank highly in his discography. At the risk of being burned in effigy in various quarters, I will say that I have never cared for Furtwängler’s heavy-handed approach to the Beethoven Fifth. In addition, this recording in particular is markedly inferior, sonically and interpretively, to both of his subsequent studio recordings from 1937 and 1954 and to the numerous surviving live performances dating from 1943 to 1954. Compared to all of the other selections on this disc, it also has the most restricted sonic range and greatest degree of background noise relative to musical signal. On the other hand, it has seen very few issues on CD, and for Furtwängler collectors this may be the only current option for obtaining it, and so for that reason it is of considerable value. Your call, then.


FANFARE: James A. Altena
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Works on This Recording

1. Midsummer Night's Dream: Scherzo by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1926 
Venue:  New York 
Length: 4 Minutes 39 Secs. 
2. Midsummer Night's Dream: Nocturne by Felix Mendelssohn
Conductor:  Arturo Toscanini
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1843; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1926 
Venue:  New York 
Length: 5 Minutes 25 Secs. 
3. La damnation de Faust: Ballet of the Sylphs by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg
Period: Romantic 
Written: 11/1845-10/1846 
Date of Recording: 1926 
Venue:  Amsterdam 
Length: 2 Minutes 25 Secs. 
4. La damnation de Faust: Rakoczy March by Hector Berlioz
Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg
Period: Romantic 
Written: 11/1845-10/1846 
Date of Recording: 1926 
Venue:  Amsterdam 
Length: 3 Minutes 22 Secs. 
5. Don Juan, Op. 20 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Bruno Walter
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1926 
Venue:  London 
Length: 15 Minutes 21 Secs. 
6. Coriolan Overture in C minor, Op. 62 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1926 
Venue:  Amsterdam 
Length: 7 Minutes 31 Secs. 
7. Symphony no 5 in C minor, Op. 67 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Period: Classical 
Written: 1807-1808; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1926 
Venue:  Berlin 
Length: 31 Minutes 30 Secs. 

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