Composer: Anton Bruckner
Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwangler
SPARS Code: ADD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks+cue)
Label: Deutsche Grammophon
Size: 210 MB
01. Bewegt, nicht zu schnell
02. Andante quasi Allegretto
03. Scherzo. Bewegt – Trio. Nicht zu schnell. Keinesfalls schleooend – Scherzo
04. Finale. Bewegt, doch nicht zu schnell
Uncle Wilhelm, Forests and Stars
My fealty to Karajan in Bruckner is immutable and lifelong. Only in the first two symphonies do my allegiances somewhat stray. The latest HD remastering has eliminated the jumpiness of his B6, therefore gazetting its greatness. Even so, Mister Slick Brilliance must always be gauged in reference to his illustrious predecessor where he either falls short or carries the day.
In entirety, alas, there’s no surviving performance of Furtwängler with the Berlin Phil in the Romantic Symphony (Kna ’44 will do). This Stuttgart performance with the Vienna Philharmoniker dates from 1948. The sound is stupendous and not boxy in the least. It features a corrupt edition that Uncle Wilhelm probably borrowed from Knappertsbusch (the changes to the Scherzo sound like a salute to Das Rheingold). As always with Furtwängler, all the chips are on the table – and the keys to the DB-5 and Eva Green too. The intensity is phenomenal. This is a rare instance where the Vienna Phil red-lines itself in order to keep apace with the magus on the podium. Jochum had his triumphs in Bruckner – but this is his gear-changing taken to a more exalted, less jumpy level. Dramatisation is promulgated at the expense of Herbie’s orbital majesty; in the outer movements, this is less the Rings of Saturn and more like Jupiter in its cyclonic fury. The slow movement is magical and second to none. Here, Furtwängler’s touch and grip are exemplary. The finale’s coda is anti-Celibidache with cymbal crashes thrown in for good measure.
Like all great B4s, this performance poses any number of questions to the reader in a pantheistic ambush. It does not quite eclipse Hvk ’70 or ’75 but it’s none the worse off for that in its podium finish.