Wilhelm Furtwängler

Furtwängler Conducts Wagner

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Anyone who reveres the conducting of Wilhelm Furtwängler will have to hear this disc. Not that the performances on the disc are by any means the best-played, the best-conducted, or the best-interpreted Furtwängler performances ever recorded. The Italian Radio Symphony Orchestras of Turin and Rome are hardly in the same class as the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, or the Philharmonia of London, and the sick and tired Furtwängler of 1952 was hardly in the same class as the cogent and convincing Furtwängler of the pre-war period, the demonic and driven Furtwängler of the war period, or the expansive and exalted Furtwängler of the postwar period. But still, to hear a whole disc of Furtwängler conducting Wagner, to hear his searingly dramatic Overture to Die fliegende Holländer, to hear his beatifically ecstatic Siegfried Idyll, to hear his compulsively exhilarating Siegfrieds Rheinfahrt and his grandly despairing Siegfrieds Tauermarsch from Gotterdammerung, and especially to hear his sublimely transcendent Vorspiel und Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde is an opportunity that anyone who reveres Furtwängler will not want to miss. And if Furtwängler in Italy in 1952 is not the Furtwängler in London in 1937 or Furtwängler in Berlin in 1942 or Furtwängler in Vienna in 1944 or Furtwängler in Bayreuth in 1951, he is still a far, far better conductor than any conductor now living. WEA's remasterings are also far, far better than any previous Italian pirate of the same recordings.

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