These were amazing concerts. The circumstances clearly show Furtwängler at his strongest, most virile and most aggressive. In the 5th Symphony, available from both concerts, we can hear that the orchestra played with more precision on May 27, which may explain why that version has received more circulation. However, the May 25 interpretation is equally impassioned, and the 6th Symphony makes this CD a necessary addition to any serious Furtwängler collection.
Furtwängler's interpretation of the "Pastoral" was always completely different from everyone else's. Normally, conductors express great reverence towards Nature in the last movement. In contrast, Furtwängler expresses a union that is almost sexual. This is a relationship with Nature that is based on participation and not objective admiration. It is a Pagan rather than a Christian view of that most elemental of all relationships. His interpretations from 1944 and 1954 are similar, and both are magnificent. However, this one has a wildness and telluric quality superior to the other two, even if the orchestral playing is slightly inferior. That playing may be a consequence of the orchestra going through a difficult period. But it may also be a result of that wildness stated above, which has the orchestra playing with great abandon and unequalled expressiveness.
From Henry Fogel's review of this transfer: "I believe Chibas has the best of all for both dates. You can read in his interview the special relationship he had with this Fifth"