Rebirth of Reason


The Master: Wilhelm Furtwangler
by George W. Cordero

There are many compilations of all of Beethoven’s 9 symphonies. I personally own 3 whole sets, and numerous individual recordings of different symphonies. When it comes to a Beethoven symphony its hard to argue against the precision of a von Karajan with the BPO. And if state of the art technology and stereo or digital quality is a must, then any of von Karajan’s 3 Beethoven cycles should more than satisfy.

However, if one were to ask me which conductor is able to deliver the energy, joy and pathos of Beethoven on a level that has never yet been matched, it can only be one man: Wilhelm Furtwangler. Furtwangler’s interpretations and shaping of the music are regarded as ethereal and monumental.

If you have heard Beethoven’s 9th by a dozen conductors, but have yet to hear it under the hand of Furtwangler; believe me when I tell you that you have yet to come close to probing the depths of this symphony. Be warned, Furtwangler recordings are from the 1940s to 1950s, so they are primarily AAD recordings. Also, his recordings are overwhelmingly ‘live’ performances, so you will have some noticeable audience coughing and tape hiss come through from time to time.

That said, I have never heard a 3rd or 9th that can compare to any by Furtwangler. He was a great conductor by any standard, and the absolute unequaled master of Beethoven. Give it a try, and trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Below is a link to the greatest box set of Beethoven' s symphonies # 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9.


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