Author Topic: Furtwängler Rising!  (Read 10389 times)

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Offline Lethevich

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Furtwängler Rising!
« on: January 18, 2011, 03:42:32 PM »
It would be interesting to gather people's impressions on the guy's music. His most well-known works (all of it of enormous duration) are three numbered symphonies, a piano concerto, piano quintet, and two numbered violin sonatas. Surprisingly the symphonies are well-represented on disc.

His music draws a lot of flack for supposedly being pure "conductor's music" - i.e. technical exercises with no merit. I don't feel that this is quite the case, and find some claims to the thematic worthlessness of the music to be over-done. It's obviously not Tchaikovsky, but nor is it totally drab and lackluster, it's often quite dramatic and impressive from moment to moment. However one crippling problem I find with his music is that it is almost completely without a long-line, in the Brucknerian sense, pulling you through the enormous canvases. Quite simply, Furt's canvases are so broad they exceed reasonable comprehension, and even a great composer would have the sense not to attempt to write these 20-30 minute movements on a regular basis. Bruckner certainly saved his for special occasions.

However I do find a fair amount of value in his symphonies (although I would absolutely never listen to it distraction-free - I need those distractions with his music), and will look into the sonatas when I get the chance.
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 04:07:39 PM »
I can't agree that it is a technical exercise without merit. There is no question that F poured his soul into his music. The bigger problem is that it isn't particularly original and is a little late for its time. It feels like a bit of a jumble of Bruckner and Sibelius and other stuff that one has heard before, but the music isn't without merit. Furtwängler himself has said that conducting his own music made him feel like a young girl having to undress in front of a room full of perverts, so that may explain the somewhat restrained interpretations by the composer himself. If you want to hear a rare performance of F's music with a top-notch orchestra, in modern sound, that really pulls out all the stops, and with a conductor who is very sympathetic to the composer, this is one you must hear:



This one I think you can listen to distraction-free. It is a very involved performance that I was lucky to witness live.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2011, 07:49:40 PM »
Thanks for the background on his attitude to his own music - he does seem to take bigger risks than, for example, Klemperer, who wrote some very anonymous sounding music, but on a modest scale with presumably much less emotional investment (I am so curious as to what Kubelík's compositions sound like, but they seem un-findable).

You seem to have read my mind about what I had been listening to (mainly the composer's own DG recording of his 2nd) - that Barenboim recording does sound like a perfect upgrade. On the subject of recordings, it really surprises me how many options there are:

No.1: Albrecht, A Walter,
No.2: Albrecht, Asahina, Barenboim, Furtwängler x2 (DG, Orfeo), A Walter
No.3: Albrecht, A Walter, Sawallisch (sans finale)

It would be nice to have a stronger rendition of the third, but from what I read of Barenboim's recording of the 2nd, a recording with that level of commitment seems to be a one-off.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2011, 08:02:08 PM by Lethe »
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2011, 08:09:55 AM »
(I am so curious as to what Kubelík's compositions sound like, but they seem un-findable).

Wrong thread, I know, but since you ask... this set:



...apart from containing a very fine partial Beethoven cycle, some Hartmann symphonies and an excellent Schoenberg Gurrelieder, also contains a recording of Kubelik's own "Quattro Forme per Archi". I can't say that I remember the work very well. Haven't listened to that in a long while.

Also, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra used to issue every year a 2CD set in connection with a spring fundraiser that collected live performances broadcast on radio. A few years ago, they had a volume entitled: From the Archives, Volume 16: A Tribute to Rafael Kubelík II. That set had a live performance of Kubelik's "Sequences for Orchestra" (also included Wagner Tristan Prelude and Liebestod, Dvorak 8, Mozart Masonic funeral music, Ravel Tombeau de Couperin, Walton Belshazzar's Feast, Britten Sinfonia da Requiem). Again, I don't remember the work very well. The highlights on those discs are the superb Wagner, Dvorak and Ravel. It's not shown on the CSO store's website (but then again, most of their stock isn't). They may still have a few copies of it, but you'd have to call them (312-294-3345). These discs were never distributed through any other channel.

Those are the only recodings of Kubelik compositions that I'm aware of.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2011, 08:24:31 AM by Mensch »

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2011, 09:18:49 AM »
Thank you very much! Above and beyond the call of duty.
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2011, 09:23:07 AM »
You're most welcome.

BTW, a long while ago there existed a recording on LP of Furtwängler's Symphonic Piano Concerto with Barenboim at the keyboard and Mehta conducting, I think, the LA Phil. Never managed to get my paws on it, though.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2011, 09:43:33 AM »
I've been scouring the net and found a low quality LP rip of the Barenboim piano concerto:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=FKRQTPA0
http://www.megaupload.com/?d=N0BJ68A9

More promisingly I found one with Janowski, presumably a more recent broadcast, but I can't find much info about it online (Edit: the provenance seems to be from this concert):

http://rapidshare.com/files/228745285/CORRECTED_Janowski_-_Furtwaengler_PC.zip.001
http://rapidshare.com/files/228760834/CORRECTED_Janowski_-_Furtwaengler_PC.zip.002
http://rapidshare.com/files/228753518/CORRECTED_Janowski_-_Furtwaengler_PC.zip.003
http://rapidshare.com/files/228753408/CORRECTED_Janowski_-_Furtwaengler_PC.zip.004

I'll give it a try once I've DLed, to see if it's legitimate. If anybody can upgrade the Barenboim rip, or offer anything else, it would be much appreciated.

In related news, I've just gone through the violin sonatas. Much more approachable music, and given how chamber musicians get to internalise new material that they play far more than orchestral musicians, I had fewer issues with the "long line" in these works. They meandered, but the Franckian expansiveness never felt too long. Surprisingly, Furtwängler's writing for both vioin and piano is quite advanced - at no point did it feel that the music was written by a "hobby" composer.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2011, 09:53:06 AM by Lethe »
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2011, 09:52:38 AM »
Funny you should post that. I just ran into the same thread on the web.  ;)

I'm at work so haven't tried downloading. I noticed the discussion is a few years old so I wasn't sure if the files still exist. Did you try downloading?

Which recording of the violin sonatas are you listening to? I am not familiar with those works.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 09:55:37 AM »
This one:



It's a high quality production, and affords both instruments a nice dynamic range (I can't imagine this music played with anything less).

Those RS links seem to be legitimate - the Furtwängler is tracks 3-5, and the recorded sound is mercifully fine. I haven't heard the Marco Polo disc but I can only imagine this is an improvement on a technical level, given the variable reviews that disc has received.
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2011, 09:59:53 AM »
Thanks. I'll have to check that out.

I also found this recording on amazon, though it seems to be indefinitely out of stock  :(



The one reviewer's comments are priceless:

Quote
Furtwangler's music is disturbed with dark and uncontrolled passion. It might not be a great pleasure but could be a examination of the humanity.

 ;D

snyprrr

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2011, 10:05:28 AM »
It would be interesting to gather people's impressions on the guy's music. His most well-known works (all of it of enormous duration) are three numbered symphonies, a piano concerto, piano quintet, and two numbered violin sonatas. Surprisingly the symphonies are well-represented on disc.

His music draws a lot of flack for supposedly being pure "conductor's music" - i.e. technical exercises with no merit. I don't feel that this is quite the case, and find some claims to the thematic worthlessness of the music to be over-done. It's obviously not Tchaikovsky, but nor is it totally drab and lackluster, it's often quite dramatic and impressive from moment to moment. However one crippling problem I find with his music is that it is almost completely without a long-line, in the Brucknerian sense, pulling you through the enormous canvases. Quite simply, Furt's canvases are so broad they exceed reasonable comprehension, and even a great composer would have the sense not to attempt to write these 20-30 minute movements on a regular basis. Bruckner certainly saved his for special occasions.

However I do find a fair amount of value in his symphonies (although I would absolutely never listen to it distraction-free - I need those distractions with his music), and will look into the sonatas when I get the chance.

I just ran across the PQ. Yes, at @70mins, I thiiink we have a winner here! Not even Feldman, really!!

I only heard the samples, but it we MUST get this into the PQ Thread!

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2011, 04:35:34 AM »
There is a Jochum recording of the Furtwängler Second available from amazon.de



and the Piano Quintet at amazon.de, a few used copies are reasonably priced:



and the Piano Concerto at amazon.de




Sarge




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he was as f*cked-up as you are."
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Offline MishaK

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2011, 08:25:43 AM »
There is a Jochum recording of the Furtwängler Second available from amazon.de



Yes, I saw that. Interesting, though the first reviews are not particularly encouraging. I doubt it will match Barenboim's effort.

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2011, 09:12:06 AM »
I guess we should try to gather the remaining few scraps, to do a full discographic overview. I will neglect using embedded Amazon links because all the cover images are tiny, and some don't work.

Large forces: student symphonies, Te Deum, etc, Te Deum (Furtwängler performance), piano concerto (Fischer), piano concerto (Fischer) adagio only

Quintet: Bayer, Timpani, Faculty? (cat no. WFFC 0601)

Violin sonatas: Timpani No.1, Guild No.1, Timpani No.2, Timpani No.2a, Bayer No.2, No.2 (Faculty? cat no. WFFC-0405)

Chamber/solo: Timpani 3CDs (VSx2, PQ), Fone (VS1, Piano Sonata No.8, Trio), "Piano Works by Great Conductors", Lieder

There was apparently a cassette tape of his piano music recorded by Robert Rivard on Symposium which was supposed to get a CD reissue in 2001, but I can't find evidence that this happened. There is also a Maazel Symphony No.3 released on a private label "Three Zero Classics" aka " 0 0 0 Classics" under the catalogue number TH-038. There is also a Stuttgart recording on Archipel (also Mediaphon) of Furtwängler conducting his 2nd (which makes three verified ones in total). There is potentially a fourth here (search for the keyphrase "Konzerte in Hamburg 1947"), which was released on a Furtwangler Society label so is probably legit.

Edit: Okay I think I found most of them.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2011, 11:29:28 AM by Lethe »
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2011, 09:18:02 AM »
Yes, I saw that. Interesting, though the first reviews are not particularly encouraging. I doubt it will match Barenboim's effort.

Yes, I agree. I orderd the Quintet and Piano Concerto I linked to but decided to go for the Barenboim rather than Jochum.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"


snyprrr

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2011, 11:22:16 AM »
I guess we should try to gather the remaining few scraps, to do a full discographic overview. I will neglect using embedded Amazon links because all the cover images are tiny, and some don't work.

Quintet: Bayer, Timpani, Faculty? (cat no. WFFC 0601)



I think the Timpani may be the one to get in the PQ.

Offline MishaK

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2011, 01:57:26 PM »
Almost related:

Side Notes: Audite's Furtwängler Deal
http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2011/01/side-notes-audites-furtwangler-deal.html




I'm very tempted to get this set. BTW, on arkivmusic's listing of this same set you can find Fanfare's resident Furtwänglerian (and ex-president of the National Symphony Orchestra and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) Henry Fogel's detailed comments on each disc.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 01:58:57 PM by Mensch »

snyprrr

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #18 on: June 08, 2011, 06:10:12 PM »
I guess we should try to gather the remaining few scraps, to do a full discographic overview. I will neglect using embedded Amazon links because all the cover images are tiny, and some don't work.

Large forces: student symphonies, Te Deum, etc, Te Deum (Furtwängler performance), piano concerto (Fischer), piano concerto (Fischer) adagio only

Quintet: Bayer, Timpani, Faculty? (cat no. WFFC 0601)

Violin sonatas: Timpani No.1, Guild No.1, Timpani No.2, Timpani No.2a, Bayer No.2, No.2 (Faculty? cat no. WFFC-0405)

Chamber/solo: Timpani 3CDs (VSx2, PQ), Fone (VS1, Piano Sonata No.8, Trio), "Piano Works by Great Conductors", Lieder

There was apparently a cassette tape of his piano music recorded by Robert Rivard on Symposium which was supposed to get a CD reissue in 2001, but I can't find evidence that this happened. There is also a Maazel Symphony No.3 released on a private label "Three Zero Classics" aka " 0 0 0 Classics" under the catalogue number TH-038. There is also a Stuttgart recording on Archipel (also Mediaphon) of Furtwängler conducting his 2nd (which makes three verified ones in total). There is potentially a fourth here (search for the keyphrase "Konzerte in Hamburg 1947"), which was released on a Furtwangler Society label so is probably legit.

Edit: Okay I think I found most of them.

I have to say I love this Piano Quintet. It just goes on and on, in a style that I can listen to go on and on. I'm in the slow mvmt., and there is a melancholy repose, married to a rushing passion, that I find complelling, though i am usually not drawn to this type of Germanic hothouse atmosphere (usually French?). The corners are rounded, so the climaxes don't grate like hysterical banshees.

More Furtwangler! (oh,.. the temptation to be a smart ass is great! ;))

Offline Lethevich

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Re: Furtwängler Rising!
« Reply #19 on: June 09, 2011, 01:18:24 AM »
Awesome! I find myself listening to the violin sonatas more often due to the slightly more managable duration, but I agree - I like the sense that a movement of the piano quintet is coming towards where another composer would end it, but Furtwängler continues without it feeling "tacked on". There is a bit of meandering but fundimentally the structures are sound.
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