The Furtwangler thing

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The Furtwangler thing

Hello all. I haven't been contributing to the Forum, glad you're all still here, Parla et al. I need some help to unlock a mystery. In short, I don't get the Furtwangler thing. I've been listening for many years, also to the hype which usually accompanies this conductor, and I have some of his recordings, those you can't avoid, Beethoven 9, Gran Partita etc. But I don't get it. I get Klemperer's unequalled sense of rhythm and musical architecture, Beecham's elegance, Karajan's whatever, just to name 3 of the Giants. Could somebody explain Furtwangler to me? What do I need to listen out for?

I suppose I am in the same

I suppose I am in the same boat, but for different reasons. I can't listen to Furtwangler because I can't stomach the recording quality. I have tried quite a few over the years, but I haven't found any that are even remotely listenable.  

Furtwangler

Thanks, I don't have a problem with recording quality, my ears adjust to the Busch Mozart operas from Glyndebourne, the unequalled Toscanini Falstaff from Salzburg, and I couldn't do without Martinelli's Otello from the Met, all recoded in the 30s and 40s in perhaps less than ideal sound. There's also some technically good Furtwangler from Audite and Orfeo, no problem. But what's the hype?

Furtwangler has never seemed

Furtwangler has never seemed that hyped in the UK or in UK record guides, compared to say in Japan, where he is a god - Japanese classical record stores usually have a special section devoted to him.

 

I'm not a big fan of Furtwangler's sometimes wild, sometimes very stodgy Beethoven apart from the odd recording. Overall I prefer the more single minded line of Toscanini in Beethoven, and I prefer Toscanini in general in a wider range of repetoire. Aspect of Furtwangler's style overlap with other German conductors of his era such as Abendroth if you've ever heard him.

 

However for me Furtwangler is still supreme in amongst other things Brahms 4, Schumann 4, some Bruckner and especially his various recordings of the Wagner Ring operas. The first Furtwangler recordings I got were the old Everest lp versions of the La Scala Ring, which required a lot toleration of the sound and live recording.

 

If you want to sample some of these Ring recordings in about the best sound I can imagine possible try the clips on the Pristine Classics website.

 

Ted

 

The Furtwangler spirit.

Like Jane, I had always a problem with the recording quality of his playback legacy due to my high-end equipment. I made an exception with Tristan und Isolde, which I found in a SACD reworking in the Japanese Warner, which, somehow, is fine enough to follow.

Having said that, I never ignored or overlooked the infulence passed to many other conductors, the tradition he served and enhanced in what is known as the "German school" of conducting. Perhaps, any video you might find may throw some light of his great art.

For those who prefer Toscanini, it is rather obvious that they will not easily accept Furtwangler's style of conducting. The former was very precise, meticulous and impressive in revealing any detail of the score. The latter was almost the exact opposite. If Toscanini represented the "letter" of the score, Furtwangler was the "spirit" of it.

Parla

Furtwangler thing

Thanks to all for taking the time to contribute. I'm none the closer however as to defining the particular qualities, which almost entirely escape me. I'd get excited about Klemperer's sense of rhythm, the unwavering pulse in for example Mozart; Toscanini's strong beat and very natural phrasing in for example Falstaff brings a smile to my face; the way Beecham negotiates a tricky corner; Ancerl's habit of down playing the big tune in for example Dvorak 6, and thereby only making it bigger; Schuricht's inhurried climax building in say Bruckner 8, or Wand's absolutely natural ditto in Beethoven; Fricsay's playfulness in Koldaly or Rossini's boutique, I get it! What quality am I missing if Furtwangler eludes me?

I'm sure you can define the

I'm sure you can define the qualities in Furtwangler. You just don't like them, so there is probably nothing you can do about it.

 

Ted

The Artist thing.

I don't think you are "missing" any quality of Furtwangler. Most probably, you miss who he was. Just learn more about him, his life, his legacy, his recordings etc. Then, you may listen to his recordings or view any available video to identify "his qualities". It doesn't matter what or how well you play but, eventually, who you are. Great artists left their indelible mark not simply or only because of their "qualities" but for who they were as artists.

By the way, what you described in your post as "the qualities" for the conductors mentioned therein are your views on their specific recordings. I have never seen anywhere that the "unwavering pulse in Mozart" was a trademark of Klemperer. However, if you identify that in Klemperer's recordings on Mozart, so be it and that is good for you. It might be interesting to see what other people see in Furtwangler's recordings.

Parla

Parladoxical

parla wrote:

Just learn more about him, his life, his legacy, his recordings etc.

parla wrote:

I thought that great music can overcome "musical ignorance and prejudice" and win through. I always believed that this is the essence of the great Art......

So sometimes we have to "learn" and other times, Art overcomes "ignorance"?

Hmmm......

Dark and Light.

I believe conducting is not a work of Art. Therefore, someone has to approach (to find out) what a conductor managed to achieve in his lifetime, how or why he did as a conductor a.o. On the other hand, Beethoven's Fifth can leave its mark, even if the listener knows nothing about the composer or his work.

Parla

parla wrote:Beethoven's Fifth

parla wrote:

Beethoven's Fifth can leave its mark, even if the listener knows nothing about the composer or his work.

Parla

Do you think any kind of cultural background/knowledge is necessary for Beethoven's fifth make its mark? Do you need to be acquianted with Western tonality etc? 

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