Beethoven
1142 HR


Beethoven Symphony No. 9 in D Minor Op. 125
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Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Elisabeth Höngen
Hans Hopf, Otto Edelmann

Bayreuth Festival Orchestra - 1951
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This was the first Furtwängler recording I ever heard. My mother had it in what was a very small LP collection after being exiled from Cuba. When I started listening to classical music when very young, I immediately became interested in the differences in interpretation. Although I had never heard of Furtwängler (I was living in New York, where he was ignored because of the Nazis), I couldn't understand why this 9th was so much better than all the others I listened to: Walter, Reiner, Toscanini, etc. That made me start looking for other Furtwängler recordings, something that changed my musical life.

This performance does not have the ferocious intensity that the March 1942 performance has. Nothing else does. However, it does have many other qualities. It is a very different interpretation in a very different occasion. This one expresses grim determination in the first movement, being cataclysmic rather than heroic. There is ecstasy in the last movement, rather than a frightening atmosphere. It is a performance that is extremely consistent internally, something almost always present in Furtwängler performances. While it is a more conventional interpretation that the 1942 one, it is certainly not conventional compared to what other conductors do.

Also, this performance has good sound, although the chorus is very distant. I am proud to have improved this situation considerably.

The soloists are superb, but then Furtwängler always commanded the best for his Ninths.