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on 1 February 2015
Yes, indeed, a marvelous collection of this highly reputed conductor's works. Truth be told, it is hard to go wrong with the Berlin Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic, which provide the backbone of this large box set, and with the legendary Furtwangler at the helm, well, much musical treasure is to be found. The sound quality does vary, as can be expected, but that's no problem for me, and overall this is certainly a worthwhile investment. I have thus far sampled from most of the boxed 'chapters' as it were; Beethoven, Brahms, etcetera, and some astonishing highlights have delighted me (Beethoven's Eighth Symphony is suddenly my favorite!). I am glad that Membran company made this box set available - and while it may not get an amazon review from Pope Francis (see photo with Angela Merkel), it may still get his blessing!
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on 5 June 2014
A fantastic value survey of Furtwangler's recorded legacy-for that is what it is.Quite apart from the fascination of the great conductor's interpretations -some appear dated but still interesting the big sound romantic Bach for example -others show how much Furtwangler even to-day sets the tone & standard.Then there is the awful fascination of hearing pieces recorded during wartime -listen to the Leonore III overture with the Wiener Philharmoniker recorded on 02/06/1944 & realise even as the notes are played Allied troops are starting to embark for D-Day.Listen too to Furtwangler's Beethoven 9th at the re-opening of Bayreuth in 1951.No Wagner but Beethoven the beacon of German culture beaming out again after the dark night of the tarnished Nazi soul. It starts rather badly -there is much raw emotion & nervousness- yet at the climax Furtwangler & German music making at least are reclaimed with gusto.
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on 18 July 2017
No idea why I waited so long to get this,it's pretty much ideal,sound quality is mostly excellent,albeit from a variety of sources,some hissier than others,but any collector of vintage recordings will find this no great bother.Having some of the EMI(Warner,now) discs already,it's an interesting comparison.Sound here,incredibly,is fuller,clearer,cleaner.Abbey Road Technology failed to capture what Membran have here.I have no idea from where they've taken their recordings,but they are--thus far--all good,bearing the caveat in mind regarding some hiss.There's stuff on here I wouldn't have purchased except as part of a box,inevitably,but these things can be useful in widening our horizons,however as far as the ones I would buy,Beethoven,Brahms,Bruckner,Wagner,etc,I can say these are extremely impressive,and it's easy to see --or hear--just what the genius of Furtwangler brings to bear.For a modest outlay,this is a superior bargain,one of my best buys of the year,and possibly of any year.
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on 23 February 2017
Great to have this well-engineered set of a substantial part of of the Furtwangler legacy. It'll take me time to work through all 107 discs but what a prospect! However, I do wish that Membran were not careless. On CD5 we have Gluck's Overture to 'Alceste' listed, but that's not the music emerging from my loudspeakers, which sounds to be the slow movement of a late Beethoven string quartet. Hope I do not find any more such errors, as the pleasure of owning the box would be much diminished if that were the case. Could someone kindly let me know whether that is an isolated error? I must mention that I have just listened to the 2 discs containing Gluck's Orpheus ed Euridice and have been bowled over anew by the power and beauty of the opera. Wonderful!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 June 2014
Naturally, as music is subjective, a matter of taste and opinion, one could argue that apart from Furtwangler; Toscanini, Reiner, Mendelberg, or Monteux were the greatest that ever lived. One can debate that point and get no where, for we each have our favourite conductor of the past. But I will state, that Furtwangler was unique. The sales of Furtwangler CD's are at a record high to people who never heard him in their life time. Even a film called Taking sides was made in 2001 about him.(read my reviews below. This is a long review). So why the interest in a conductor who died in 1954? The idea of freedom that allows the notes to dictate their own shape or tone. Not in an unfettered fashion, but with a message to impart. This musical thinking has gained followers in Abbado, Barenboim and Thielemann who condider Furtwangler their role model.

"Furtwangler's performance didn't so much start as emerge. The famous indecisive beat was a ploy with a purpose, and not as some professional musicians will tell you, a symptom of technical incompetence." Gramophone February 2005. For example, the Berlin Orchestra asked him to cue entries more precisely. Furtwangler declined. An entry like that was too direct for him. The formation of a tone was evidently more important to him than the imutable form of its presence. He favoured intuitive insights, where markings on the page were viewed more as guidelines than instructions. Thus, the page was there for him to bring the music alive. So his performances combined spontaneity, impulsiveness and deep inwardness. Furtwangler placed more importance on the power of improvision than on the technical perfection that was to be achieved through continual rehearsing. For this conductor worked on the inner meaning and the hidden laws of music. He appreciated the symphonic works of Beethoven,Schumann, Brahms and Bruckner. In opera, Wagner, Mozart and Beethoven, but here he was only interested in the inner human drama of the music.

Furtwangler saw the symphony as a living organism. Whereas Toscanini prided himself on the truthfulness to the score. His manner was more to do with execution and technique. A rehearsal fanactic, who was obsessed with accuracy and razor-sharp precision. Barenboim states that in his youth the privileged Furtwangler was able to work with good orchestras. The under-privileged Toscanini had to drill under-par provincial orchestras. But Furtwangler's conducting style and changes in the dynamics and phrasing were not only communicated with his hands but also with his body. For his vague and twitching gestures to the orchestra were quick and intuitively understood. He not only experienced the music but passed it on to the orchestra, for he is living in the music. As Prof Kaiser states in his interview on the DVD in this box set, "that Furtwangler was like a medium".

From Conducting in Practice by Elliot Galkin, Menuhin recalls " Furtwangler compared music to the flow of a river which a conductor must follow. he rejected method, and metronome vigor, but relied upon intuition and dreamed his ways through the scores. Happily intuition did not lead him astray; it was shaped by the music it was shaping. (1988:Pg 670). His performances reveal a deeply felt sense of mysticism. But Toscanini was a fiery anti-facist. Furtwangler was naively and tragically apolitical. He maintained that " Art has nothing to do with power politics and war. Art stands above these conflicts" (1988:Pg 676). Art has everything to do with life. For me, a artist should be in the forefront of warning the people of the negativity ahead. However, I like Toscanini and Furtwangler equally, both opposites in their approach to the scores, but they reach across the years and transmit to us the eternal truth of this music.

This is a strong dark foot long Tourqouise cardboard box with a lid that covers the entire box. The lid has details of the music on both ends, with an explanation about the 107 CDs. They have all the record releases and live recordings that Furtwangler made for radio broadcast. Well, that is not quite true, for there are 12 recordings of the Beethoven 3rd symphony. The best, the most beautiful, or the most exciting have been chosen for this legacy box. In addition the numerous bonus CDs and tracks present excerpts taken from alternative recordings. The question is who chose them, and why? I have heard all the CDs, and for example, the Beethoven war symphonies have been left out, apart from 1st Movement of the 1942 9th symphony. The 3rd, 4th, 7th and 9th Beethoven symphonies, are the best Furtwangler made.They are blisteringly swift, with searing emotion. You can acquire some of them on DGG Box set, Vol 1. Recordings 1942-1944, with the Schubert 9th symphony, completely remastered. Hall of fame has the 1942 Beethoven 9th symphony . Instead you have those made in the late 1940's and early 1950's, and you might be satisfied with them. They are good, but those I have mentioned get to the heart of Beethoven.

There are 11 dark Tourquoise boxes inside, many devoted to one composer, the others to three, or many composers. The front has the composers names and on the back the music to be played. On all sides, the colour code, say orange, for each box has a colour covering a corner, such as red, shades of green, purple,blue, brown and grey. A number in white, for example, 1, on the front, spine and back. The Sleeve is Tourquoise and has the colour code on the top and back with the number in white. Also, another big number on the front. On the back the composer and track numbers and pieces to be played. A weakness for you, there are no details of the movements in the symphonies, or arias in the operas, next to the track number. The CD's are the same colour as the boxes; colour code say orange, with a big number 1. Composer. Compact digital audio or ADD, Mono. Total time, many over 60- 70 minutes, others between 42 and 60 minutes. You cannot get lost. Booklet, not much about his early life which formed his character,(details below) and the recordings. DVD 8 mins by Dr Prof Joachum Kaiser, also CD Rom.

Sound is very good; the Rome Wagner Ring cycle is better recorded than the EMI version, same with Tristan. There are problems with the 1936 excerpts from Lohengrin,some of the other early Wagner excerpts and Berlioz's damanation of Faust. However, if you collect singers of the past as I do, the hiss in some areas should not worry you. However, Brahms, Beethoven, Bruckner and so forth are well recorded. They have been taken from EMI and DGG, plus radio recording tapes. The copyright has expired so it is open to companies like this one. The sleeves are thin, but I have had no trouble with them. I have reviewed the 117 CD Membran Von Karajan 1938-1960 Box set, which is longer then the Furtwangler Legacy set, the Red Callas 64 box set, and many other large box sets. So I thought this marvellous Membran set required an in depth review, by someone who has actually heard these works and is experienced in writing about huge box sets. Don't forget the DVD's, The Art of conducting Vol 1 and 2, to see Furtwangler alive.

Who was Wilhelm Furtwangler? He was born in 1886 in Berlin. His mother was a artist and his father was a well known Archaeologist. he grew up in Munich. He was bullied at school, so he was taught by the best private professors, musicians ,art historians and educationists. He was composing by seven and knew Beethoven's works off by heart at 12. He was enouraged by these private tutors to be open, tolerant, sensitive and have moral standards. They became his private credo, and his undoing in Hitler's Germany, which Toscanini could deal with because of his hard upbringing. His father had been a red shirt with Garibaldi.

Furtwangler considered himself a composer first and a conductor second, so he could conduct his own works. But then his father died and it became a manner in which to support his Mother and sisters. He learnt the basic operatic repertoire under Felix Mottl (1856-1911) who had been a stage director at the premiere of the Ring at Bayreuth in 1876. He loathed routine and conducted with a sense of discovery, a habit which Furtwangler cultivated. In 1909 he came under the tutelage of Pfitzner, a fine conductor and one of Germany's best composers of the time. Then Nikisch who was a Violinist, played under Wagner, Brahms, Lizst and Rubinstein. He was the first conductor to beat in advance. "He influenced the view of a subjective but authoritative orchestral educator who was able to bring out all the musical substance from the score.and the orchestra through detailed work. I learned from Nikisch, how to work the sound out." He was Furtwanglers only role model. Then he read a book by the Austrian music theorist Henrich Schenker(1868-1935). and became friendly with the man. He helped mould and focus creative instincts that were already being put to good use. Without him, Furtwangler would have taken a different interpretative direction. In 1919 Furtwangler got his real first break as general manager of Mannheim by Bodansky, who was leaving his post to conduct the Met German Wing of that opera house.

I shall place the Box numbers, then the composers, music to be played and the order they are placed in the small box. Comments from me-T, or by John Ardoin,from the book 'the Furtwangler record'.You could photocopy this list so you can find what you want immediately.

BOX 1. J.S BACH:(31.10.1948) Orchestral Suite No 3.Berlin Phil. (31.8.1950). Brandenburg Concertos No 3.Vienna Phil. (31.O8. 1950). Brandenburg Concerto No 5.Vienna Phil. Furtwangler piano. Vienna Phil. (14-17.04. 1954.) St Matthew Passion. Grummer, Hoffgen, Dermota, Fischer-Dieskau, Vienna Phil. A moving account-T. HANDEL: Concerti grossi op 6, (1954)5. (1949)10. GLUCK: (1942) Alceste. (1954) Iphigenie en Aulide overtures.J.S BACH:(1930) Brandenburg Concerto No 3. (1929) Orchestral suite. GLUCK:(1951) Orfeo ed Eurdice. Barbieri, Hilde Guden, Gabory. Orchester der Scala, Milan. Rapt, overall conducting. Singers not ideal for their roles.

BOX 2.BEETHOVEN: (13.07.1950) (Live) Symphony No 1.Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. (26 & 27. 11. 1952) No 3. (3.10.48).No 2. Vienna Phil.His tempo's are tempestuous and brisk and his concept is incisive and vivid. (1-3 12.1952) No 4 Vienna Phil.(27.5. 1947)(Live) No 5 Berlin Phil. (24&25. 11. 1952) No 6. Vienna Phil. Is within the classic confines, than was the case in the 1947 and 1954 version. (18 &19. O1. 1950). No 7. Vienna Phil. Is exciting in its sweep. The final builds with cyclonic rage, crushing everything in its path.(14.4. 1953) No 8.Rage and repose (29.6.51) No 9. Schwarzkopf, Hongen, Hopf, Edelmann, Bayreuth Festival and Orchestra. A classic recording. These symphonies are good, but the war symphonies are the best, especially No 9 recorded 1942 with Anders.WOW! (1947) Egmont overture Berlin phil.(1951)Coriolan Vienna Phil.(1949) Leonore 2 Berlin Phil. (1954) Grosse Fuge op 133.Vienna Phil. Rarely has the excitement of harmonic conflict sounded as physical as it does now. (1940) From the string Quartet in B flat minor op 130.(1947) Piano Concerto No 1 Adrian Aeschbacher, piano.orchestre du festival Lucerne. Furtwangler attuned to the work unlike the soloists. (1943) Piano concerto No 4 Conrad Hansen Berlin Phil. (1951)Piano concerto No 5. Piano - Edwin Fischer, Philharmonia orchestra. One of the few studio recordings that ring with conviction and inspiration of a live performance. (1953).Violin Concerto. Wolfgang Schneiderhan Violin. Berlin Phil. (1953)Romance for Violin No 1 and 2.Yehudi Menuhin Violin.Caressing sense of song. Philharmonia orch. (1953)Fidelio. Modl,the blaze of Modl, better then Flagstad.-T Windgassen, Frick, Edelmann, Poell, Jurinac, Schock, Vienna Phil.Sound good. (1926)Symphony 5. Allegro con brio. Berlin Phil.(1933). Berlin Phil. Egmont overture. (1950)Symphony No 3.Finale.(1942) Symphony No 9.Berlin Phil.Marvellous-T. (1953) Symphony No 9 2nd Movement. Vienna Phil. (1944) Leonore 3. Vienna Phil.Suspense and driven. (1952) Piano Concerto No 4. Pietro Scarpini-piano. Orchestra Sinfonia di Rome della RAI. (1944). Violin Concerto 3rd movement.Berlin Phil The last piece recorded in this concert hall before it was destroyed in the bombing. Rohn the violinist is at the peak of his form, so is the orch.-T (1948) Fidelio. Jetzt Schatzchen. Lisa della Casa. Schock. Vienna Phil. (1950)Fidelio. Flagstad. Greindl, Schwarzkopf, Dermota, Vienna Phil.

BOX 3: BRAHMS. (1952) Symphony No 1.(1950). Nearly impressive as the 1945 version. Variations on a theme by Haydn. Berlin Phil. Symphonies no 2(1952)Gripping. & 3 (1954).Berlin Phil.Better then 1949 version.(1950)Live No 4.3rd and 4th movement lively. Vienna Phil.(1949) Hungarian Dance No 1, No 3, No 10. Vienna Phil. (1942)Piano Concerto No 2.Edwin Fischer piano. Berlin Phil.(1949). Violin Concerto in D major op 77. Yehudi Menuhin Violin. Lucerne Festival Orch. (1952) Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orch. Boskovsky Violin, Brabec, cello. Vienna Phil. (1948)German Requiem. Lindberg-Torlind, soprano. Sonnerstedt baritone. Stockholm Philharmonic Orch.One of my favourite Brahms requiems. Furtwangler captures the spirituality. A bit of hiss. (1945)Symphony No 1. Adagio. Berlin Phil. Furtwangler at his best, sums up his philsophy on conducting.(1945) Vienna Phil. No 2 Allegro non troppo.(1951)Variations on a theme by Haydn. Sinfonieorchester des Norddeutschen Rundfunks. (1952) Live Violin Concerto 3rd movement. De Vito Violin. Orch Sinfonica di Torino della RAI. Good conducting, playing lacks character. (1930) Hungararian Dance No 1 and 10. Berlin Phil.

BOX 4:BRUCKNER: (1951)Symphony No4 "Romantic". Vienna Phil. (1951) Symphony No 5. Vienna Phil. (1943) Symphony No 6 excerpts. Berlin Phil. (1942) Symphony No 5 Ist Adagio. Allegro. The best of Furtwangler's 5ths, simply overwhelming. (1951)Symphony No 7. Berlin Phil. (1949)Symphony No 8. Berlin Phil.Riviting performance. (1944)Symphony No 9. Berlin Phil. Heartwrenching. Disquieting intensity. One of furtwangler's great performances.

BOX 5: HAYDN: (1951)Symphony No 88. Berlin Phil.(1950) Symphony No 94 "Surprise" Vienna Phil. MOZART: (1944)Symphony No 39.(O7 & 08 12 1948 and 17.02 1949). Symphony No 40. Vienna Phil. Serenade No 10 for 13 Wind Instruments " gran Parita" (1947). (1949) Serenade No 13 " Eine kleine Nachtmusik. Vienna Phil.(1954) Piano Concerto KV 466. Yvonne Lefebure Piano. Berlin Phil.(1933). Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail overture. Berlin Phil. (1949)Concerto for two Pianos Kv 365. Bella and Paul Badura Skoda-Piano. Vienna Phil. (1952) Piano Concerto No 22. Paul Badura-Skoda piano. Vienna Phil.(1954) Don Giovanni.Siepi, Schwarzkopf,Dermota, Edelmann,Berry, Grummer,Erna berger, Vienna Phil.(1953) The Marriage of Figaro .Schoffler, Schwarzkopf, Kunz, Seefried,Guden, Klein, Vienna Phil.Schoffler's voice is past his best.Furtwangler's conducting is swift and light.(1951) The Magic Flute. Greindl. Dermota. Schoffler. Lipp. Seefried. Goltz. Kunz. Vienna Phil. SCHUBERT: (1952) Symphony No 8. Berlin Phil. (1951) Symphony No 9. Berlin Phil. the 9th 1944 version is better, very swift. furtwangler at his best. This 1951 version is too slow. Rosamunde excerpts. Vienna Phil. (2.2.1950. 31.01.1951) MOZART: (1933) Le Nozze di Figaro overture. (1950)Don Giovanni excerpts. Gobbi, Greindl, Kunz, Seefried, Kunz, Poell. Vienna Phil. (1949)The Magic Flute. Ludwig, Schmidt- Walter, Grab-Prandl, Hongen. Vienna Phil.

BOX 6: MENDELSSOHN: (1952)Violin Concerto. Yehudi Menuhin Violin. Berlin Phil.(1951) The Hebrides Concert Overture. Vienna Phil.(1947) A Midsummer night's dream overture. Berlin phil. SCHUMANN:(1951) Manfred overture.Berlin Phil. (1951)Symphony No 1 "Spring". Brilliant!(1953) Symphony No 4.Berlin Phil.Like a live recording, even better than the first sym. (1942)Piano Concerto- Walter Gieseking-piano.Berlin Phil. Very quick tempi.-T (1942) Cello Concerto. Tibor de Machula-Cello.Berlin Phil. A favourite of mine- stunning.-T WEBER: (1954)Der Freischutz.Grummer,Streich, Bohme,Hopf,Edelmann.Vienna Phil.(1954) Der Freischutz overture. Vienna Phil. (1954)Euryanthe overture.(1950) Oberon overture. Vienna Phil.(1932) Invitation to the dance. Berlin Phil. NICOLAI: (1951)The merry wives of Windsor. Vienna Phil.(1926)WEBER: The Freischutz overture. Berlin Phil. (1935)Der Freischutz Prelude Act 3.Berlin Phil.MENDELSSOHN: (1952)Violin concerto. 3rd Movements. De Vito Violin. Orch Sinfonica di torino della RAI. SCHUMANN:(1943) Cello concerto. Fournier Cello. Berlin Phil.(1929) A Midsummer Night's dream overture. Berlin Phil.

BOX 7: RICHARD STRAUSS: 1944. Sinfonia domestica. Berlin Phil(1952) Metamorphosen. Berlin Phil.(1951) Don Juan. Vienna Phil. (1954) Till Eulenspiegel's merry Pranks.(1950) Tod und Verklarung. Vienna Phil. (1942) Four songs. Berlin Phil. Well sung by Peter Anders. (1950) Four last songs. Philharmonia.Flagstad.A lot of Hiss.(1952) MAHLER: Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. Fischer-Dieskau. Philharmonia Orchestra. HINDEMITH: (1947) Symphonic Metamorphosis on theme by Carl Maria von Weber.Berlin Phil.(1950) Concerto for Orchestra. Berlin Phil.(1953) Symphony "Harmony of the World". Vienna Phil.STRAVINSKY: (1950) Symphony in Three Movements. Vienna Phil.(1953) Le Baiser de la fee. Berliner Phil. PFITZNER:(1949) Symphony in C Major. Vienna Phil. PFITZNER: (1949) Palestrina.Berlin Phil. MAHLER:(1951) Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. Die zwei blauen Augen. Fischer-Dieskau. Vienna Phil. RICHARD STRAUSS:(1954) Don Juan. Venezuela Sym Orch. (1930)Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche. Berlin Phil.

BOX 8: TCHAIKOVSKY: (1951) Symphony No 4. Vienna Phil.(1950) Serenade for strings.(1952) Symphony No 5. orchestra della Rai di Torino. 4th and 5th symphonies so, so. SMETANA: (1951) Die Moldau. Vienna Phil. (1938) Symphony No 6 "Pathetique". Berlin Phil. One of the glories of his recorded legacy. LISZT: (1954). Les Prelude. Vienna Phil. SIBELIUS: (1943) Violin Concerto.Georg Kulenkampff Violin. Berlin Phil. Furtwangler brings clarity that allows the sound of yearning and beauty to come forth.One of the finest recordings of this concerto.-T (1943)En Saga. Berlin Phil. One of Furtwangler's finest recordings.(1930) DVORAK Slavonic Dance no 3. Berlin Phil.

BOX 9: WAGNER: ( 1936) Lohengrin. Volker, Muller, Klose, Bayreuth festival Chorus and Orch. Hiss. Should not worry those who like singers of yore. Lohengrin.(1954) Prelude to Act 1.(1949) Siegfried Idyll. Vienna Phil. (1949)The flying Dutchman overture. Vienna Phil.(1952)Tannhauser overture. Vienna Phil.(1938) Parsival excerpts.Berlin Phil.(1943)The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. Jaro Prohaska, Greindl,Max Lorenz, Zimmermann, Maria Muller, Bayreuth Festival chorus and orchestra. A lively performance. Wagner told Mottl that the prelude was always taken too slowly. It should be in vigorous march time. Furtwangler comes near to this ideal. This was the last opera sung at Bayreuth before it closed during the second world war. SS soldiers are in the chorus and soldiers on leave are in the audience. Many people refused to hear this opera because of the Nazi connection. Times have changed. This sound is marvellous for this era and the singers are in top form.

WAGNER:(1952) Tristan und Isolde. Suthaus, Flagstad, Thebom,Greindl, Fischer-Dieskau, Schock. Philharmonia orchestra.The only recording Furtwangler was satisfied with. Considered a classic. I have played my EMI CD copy and find this recording better. (1950) Das Rheingold. Scene 1 excerpts.Scene 4 excerpts. Franz,Treptow. Sattler,Pernerstorfer, Hongen, Gabory. Die Walkure. Act 1 excerpts. Act 2 excerpts. Trepow, Konentzni, Flagstad, Franz.Act 3, same with Flagstad. Act 1 and 2 excerpts. Set Svanholm, Markwort, Flagstad. Gotterdammerung. Prologue and Act 3. Max Lorenz, Weber, Flagstad. Orchestra La Scala, Milan.I own the ADD 24 new remastering by Gebhardt, which I have had for years. It sounds the same as this recording. (1954)Die Walkure.Act 1. Rysanek, Suthaus, Frick, Vienna Phil. Modl is the Brunnhilde. Can be picked up cheaply at the Brit Amazon. (1954)Tristan und Isolde. Berlin Phil. Mild und leise wie er lacht.(1947) Erna Schluter, Staatskapelle Berlin. (1938) Mastersingers of Nurnberg.Was duffet doch der Flieder. Bockelmann, Vienna Phil.(1949) Also excerpts.(1951) Parsival.(1936) Die Walkure. Maria Muller, Orch der Vienna Staatsoper. (1936) Walkure excerpts. Boekelmann. Orchestra of Covent Garden. (1933) Gotterdammerung. Tauermarsch. (1952)Starke Scheite. Flagstad. Philharmonia Orch. (1952) Siegfrieds Rheinfahrt. orchestre Sinoniche di Roma.

BOX 10: WAGNER : (1953). The Rome Ring Orchestra Sinfonia della Radio Italiana.Suthaus, Poell,Greindl, Modl, Jurinac, Klose, Rossl-majan, Petnerstorfer, Windgassen, Frick, Franz, Konetzni, Cavetti, Grummer, Siewart, Neidlinger, Patzak. I prefer this Rome Ring to the La Scala 1950 Ring. I like Modl and Furtwangler's conducting of the piece, although he is very swift in the La Scala Ring. The sound here is better than the two Rome EMI Ring operas I own.Remember always it is a matter of taste.

BOX 11: HONEGGER:(1952) Mouvement symphonique No 3.(1949) FORTNER: Concerto for Violin and large chamber orchestra.Taschner violin. Berlin Phil. BLACHER: Concertante Music for orchester op 10.(1950) BERLIOZ: The damnation of Faust-in German. A few drawbacks but there are extrordinary stretches. Hotter, Schwarzkopf, Orchestra de festival de Lucerne.FRANCK: Symphony in D minor. RAVEL: Daphnis et Chloe suite no 2. CHERUBINI:(1951) Anacreon overture.Vienna Phil. JOHAN STRAUSS:(1950) Emperor Waltz.(1950) Pizzicato Polka. (1937)Die Fledermaus overture. Berlin phil. ROSSINI: (1930)La Gazza Ladra overture. (1935)Il Barbiere di Siviglia overture.He has an affinity for these two overtures. PEPPING:(1943) Symphony No 2.(1942) HEINZ SCHUBERT: Hymnic Concert for Soloists, organ and orchestra. Berger and Ludwig. Berlin Phil. FURTWANGLER:(1951) Symphony No 2. Berliner Phil. BARTOK: (1953)Violin Concerto No 2. Yehudi Menuhin Violin.(1939) Symphony Concerto for pinao and orchestra. Edwin Fischer -piano. (1951)VERDI: Othello. Vinay, Martinis, Schoffler, Dermota, Greindl, Vienna Phil. A remarkable document conducted like a massive tone poem. WOLF: (1953) Morike Lieder/ Goethe Lieder/ Italienisches Liederbuch/ Sechs alte Weisen/ Sechs lieder fur eine Frauenstimme/ Eichendorf-Lieder. Schwarzkopf, Furtwangler piano. These songs draw the best from Furtwangler and Schwarzkopf. Last CD. Furtwangler talks about music,useful for his rehearsal techniques. Then speeches and interviews in German. He could speak excellent English and had a passion for Italy. Why is this review come biography so long, because Furtwangler deserves it. He was says Thielemann a phenomenon; one of the greatest of the conductors.

References: Ardoin,J. The Furtwangler record. 1996. Armadeus Press. Cowan, R. Furtwangler Man and myth. Gramophone February 2005. Cowan, R. Forces of nature.2002. Deutsche Grammophon, Hamburg. Galkin,E. Conducting in Practice. 1988. Pendragon Press. New York. Grawe, K. Fixing the moment.2001. Deutsche Grammophon,Hamburg. Gutmann, P. Furtwangler a genius forged in the caldron of war.1999. Goggle. Furtwangler- Hall of Fame. 2002. Tim the international music company AG. Shirakawa, S. The Devil's music master. 1992. Oxford University Press. New York.
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on 3 January 2014
I have my differences with Membran, and so far I've not heard enough of this box to know whether they have been completely resolved here. But the Beethoven section at least is much better than I expected. In the past Membran have published two different transfers of the VPO Beethoven 7 included here - one in a two disc set with the Bayreuth 9th, in a series they called "the 50s", and one in one of those 10 disc boxes in which every conductor is a Maestro Preposteroso or something like it. The Maestro one, published after the two disc set, in their Furtwangler Vol 3, is dreadful. The big box has the other, and better transfer. You can get a proper handle on this flawed but stirring performance, which the old Record Guide took to pieces in its first edition (Sackvillie-West and Shaw-Taylor didn't trust Furtwangler, except in Wagner). The Concertgebouw Beethoven First is a public performance but sounds decent enough, though the woodwind is backward, until the applause which suggests aggressive processing. Schneiderhahn's Violin Concerto is, (besetting sin with Membran) transferred at a low level, so you can only just hear the drum taps, which play an unusual part in the cadenza adapted from the one Beethoven devised for his piano arrangement, and the Menuhin Beethoven romances sound well. I haven't tried the Beethoven Second (a unique survivor, from, of all places, the Albert Hall, and sonically poor, it's of interest because Furtwangler, who was usually being lambasted by somebody or other for his flexible tempi in Beethoven, and contrasted with Toscanini's alleged purity and understanding of the composer's intentions, plays the second movement exactly as Schindler's biography says Beethoven himself did). It would have been nice if a better recording had survived, especially as this side of being "historically informed" isn't much explored these days. Nor have I yet attempted the 1947 Fifth offered here, but at least it won't be a rehash of the 1937 Fifth ( a remarkable performance in itself) offered in another Furtwangler Maestro issue with the linking passage between third and fourth movements missing several bars. And the Eroica (VPO 1952) is everything it should be.

Perhaps the most engrossing of the Beethoven CDs is 13, which offers the Egmont, Coriolan, and Leonore No 2 Overtures and the Grosse Fugue and the Cavatina from the late B Flat quartet - all but the last in public performances. If the dates given are right, all but the Cavatina are post-war, and Egmont Overture is in fact from the third of the charged group of four Berlin concerts which saw his first postwar appearances with the BPO. Certainly it is a performance of great intensity. The VPO Fugue is from August 1954, a Salzburg Festival concert in which it separated the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, performances available I think on Orfeo and the Seventh, superior to the EMI studio recording in the box, a performance of which Barenboim once spoke with awe. I still remember a broadcast of the Fugue under Furtwangler which until I checked I thought was from the Edinburgh festival of 1953, the first time I had heard the work. But it wasn't played there, so it may well have been this one. I knew it also from a DG LP but hadn't heard it for many years. The only coherent thing I can say after hearing it again is 'Whatever you do, don't listen to it through headphones, and never without pausing beforehand' It's overwhelming. All the performances are open to criticism, but their conviction sweeps you away. This is Beethoven playing of a kind unimaginable now. There are stories of orchestras fazed by the vague opening downbeat, of which Furtwangler himself said that he wanted his orchestras to open a work from instinct rather than his beat. The opening attack both in Egmont and the Fugue is remarkable. Coriolan, a performance which overtops even the VPO EMI recording, itself once heard, never forgotten, has a slight lack of unanimity in the opening bars, but nothing to frighten the horses. There's another story of a Furtwangler performance in London of the Schumann Fourth Symphony which quite simply brought the audience unanimously to its feet. One critic, applauding furiously, shouted to his companion 'It's all wrong, of course, but....' Even the transfer of Leonore No 2, which is a bit congested, rather like the EMI studio recording, which is at a much lower voltage, doesn't break the impression of Furtwangler live and at full throttle. However bad the rest of the box turns out to be, this rates an extra star.

So there are signs that Membran put this issue together in a state of repentance - were it not for the packaging which, though sturdy, although the card sleeves seem to go at the spine very rapidly, is hard to find your way about, and the level of performance information which is poor - you get, for example, dates and places, but no track information in the symphonies. You do get band information on some of the opera sleeves, but not in the Milan Gluck Orfeo. So I'm not going to pass final judgement, but having taken the plunge and acquired the box, second hand, I am so far relieved and beginning to look forward to listening to the items I don't know. I shall proceed with my fingers firmly crossed, still, but in a spirit of guarded optimism. Makes a change when dealing with this label.

Later - I do hope Frau Merkel, when she gave His Holiness this set as a prestigious gift, let him know that the Fifth and Eighth Symphonies of Bruckner are not in D minor, as the sleeves claim. But perhaps neither of them cared. Membran obviously don't. Optimism reduced.
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on 13 February 2013
This is a wonderful box set of great historical value. I have so far listened to about a quarter of the CDs. I hope to listen to them all before I pop my clogs! The quality of some of the later recordings is excellent, bearing in mind that they were recorded approximately sixty years ago. Others are remarkable for the intensity and sensitivity of the interpretation. The very old recordings, given their technical limitations, are a notable historic document, and I found that the 1929 (i.e 84 year old) Mendelssohn recording in particular was remarkable for its age. Having listened to the Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner in their entireity, and having various other interpretations, especially of the Bruckner for comparison ;Klemperer, Walter, Baremboim, the Furtwängler compares very favourably, especially the 7th and the 9th, although I still prefer the Walter 1961 CBS interpretation of the 4th. His interpretation of the Brahms 2nd and 3rd symphonies in particular are unique as was the Schumann 4. there are obvious sound limitations in some of the choral works, but bearing in mind that Furtwängler didn't have the benefits of Hi-Fi stereo recordings, one must concentrate on the originality, sensitivity, uniqueness, and historic value of the recordings. Overall well worth the investment. I have also purchased an e-book of the Sam H Shirakawa biography of the conductor, and the DVD of the excellent Istvan Szabo film " Taking Sides" which deals with the postwar interrogation of the conductor. all in all these give a historical context.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 October 2012
Right off, I must confess that I simply have not had the time to listen to all of the CDs in this enormous Membran box set, but that I am selectively working my way through it. Whatever one thinks about the recordings, live and studio, that Wilhelm Furtwängler has left us, I can be categoric and say that you really can't go wrong with this set. Broadly speaking the transfers are excellent; perhaps not quite up to the standards of, say, Pristine Classical or Tahra, but, in the real world of economic hard times, they really are quite good enough.

Indeed, I'd say that the Beethoven transfers here are much better than those issued by EMI not so long ago (The Great EMI.. or Beethoven: Complete Symphonies) where, probably due to the deterioration of the original sources, too much processing has robbed the sound of high frequencies; that's not the case here - a bit of hiss and occasional blasting is far preferable to my ears. The classic Tristan & Isolde is, frankly, a much better transfer than EMI's, and many of the pre-war recordings are as good as the Naxos Historical releases that I have heard.

Clearly, this set does not contain everything that Furtwängler left (that would probably fill 500 discs!), but does contain all of the core recordings of Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, etc. that most collectors will ever need.

The presentation is quite good, too. You get a heavy-duty box well over a foot long with a lift-off lid. Inside there are further card cap-boxes divided by composer/theme/opera, a short booklet, and a detailed CD-Rom with track-listings. There is also a short DVD.

Over on amazon.com, a reviewer has kindly detailed the contents and provided a guide to the sound quality, which is most useful.

A genuine bargain, unhesitatingly recommended and very complimentary to the RCA Toscanini set Toscanini Collection.
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on 30 June 2016
Classic! Membran!
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on 11 July 2015
Angela Merkel chose this set as a gift for Pope Nicholas. That gives some indication about just how special this set is. It presents a cross-section of the greatest recordings of, arguably, the greatest conductor of the 20th century.
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