These may be the most gripping performances of Beethoven's symphonies you'll ever hear. No, not necessarily the most enjoyable or even the most accurate, but gripping--to say the least. In these wartime performances of Symphonies Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9, Wilhelm Furtwängler is at his most expressive, angry self. Conducting six of the world's greatest symphonies for audiences in Nazi Germany, Furtwängler has an inner turmoil that seems to shoot straight through his baton. He drives the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics to the edge of disaster, but miraculously they keep up--rising to the occasion. The Eroica and the Ninth are particularly emotion-filled; the latter features the great Bruno Kittel Choir and the BPO in fine form, but they--like everyone else here--are overshadowed by the conductor's bipolar mood swings and furious pacings. Brace yourself. These are shocking, awesome, thought-provoking performances that--thanks to a great remastering--have never sounded better. --Jason Verlinde
These are the best World War II performances of Beethoven's symphonies under the baton of Furtwngler. Previously released versions on our label were acclaimed in Fanfare, American Record Guide, Pulse!, Absolute Sound, Diapason, Musica, and numerous other journals. Symphony No. 9 has been completely re-mastered for this edition by Aaron Z. Snyder from a new source and sounds better than any prior issue.