Notes & Reviews:
Conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler already enjoyed a worldwide legendary standing during his lifetime - he was considered the German conductor and performances were greeted with rapturous applause. Today, more than 50 years after his death, Wilhelm Furtwangler is still an icon and his work has become an integral part ofthe music scene.But just what makes up this fascination? And what makes his recordings so special? This edition provides the answers.
These 107 CDs contain all the works Furtwangler ever recorded for release on record - and the "live" recordings he made for radio broadcast. In the case of different versions of the same work having been produced (for example there are 12 recordings of Beethoven's Eroica!.0 the best, most beautiful, or the most exciting interpretations have been chosen for this edition. In addition the numerous bonus CDs and tracks present excerpts taken from alternative recordings.
From his very first recording (Weber's Freischiitz Overture, 1928) to his very last (Wagner's Valkyrie, 1954), this edition features productions of all the Beethoven and Brahms symphonies, the complete Rome recording of Wagner's Ring, recordings of the famous symphonies composed by Schubert, Schumann, Bruckner and Mozart, highlights taken from the Salzburg recordings of Don Giovanni, Magic Flute and Figaro, a live Bayreuth recording of Mastersingers etc. etc. etc.
The edition has been complemented by recordings of rehearsals and interviews. In addition the recording of the famous Salzburg song recital in 1953 reflects on the pianist Wilhelm Furtwangler as accompanist to Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.
Furthermore, the edition contains a DVD with a video clip featuring the famous music critic Prof. Dr. Joachim Kaiser, who provides the answer to the question: why is Wilhelm Furtwangler still the most famous conductor in the world?
This is a behemoth of a set; 14.5 x 5.0 x 6.0 inches of Furtwangler! I have dabbled my way through about 30 of the 107 (plus DVD and CD-ROM) discs here, mostly the recordings I have not heard before. All of them sound great given their age and the circumstances under which they were made. A few quibbles: I would have liked to have had the La Scala Wagner Ring complete, rather than 2 discs of excerpts; these two excerpt discs prove the La Scala performances to be superior to the (included complete) RAI Rome ones, though the Rome recordings DO have superior sound. Also, much as I love the Bayreuth 1951 Beethoven 9, I love the 1942 9th, and other wartime Beethoven recordings (a few excerpts are included on the "bonus" discs). Of course, I already have those sets, so this is just quibbling. This set is all the Furtwangler neophyte needs until they become a fanatic about it and "need" to become OCD completists (which, ironically, is why I bought this set). The long (literally) and short of it is, this is a fantastic box set at a great price, organized REALLY well in sturdy boxes. Even if you have half of these recordings in other incarnations, this set is STILL a deal!