ME 078 Furtwängler: Brahms 1; Wagner: Tannhäuser Ov/Caracas 1954/
Wilhelm Furtwängler conducts Wagner and Brahms
Overture, Tannhäuser 1 (13:40)
Symphony No 1
2 [i] Adagio – Allegro (14:13) 3 [ii] Allegro (9:58)
4 [iii] Affetuoso (5:17)
5 [iii] Allegro (16:52) Orquestra Sinfonica Venezuela
Furtwaengler’s activities in 1954 – which saw his untimely death in November – was decidedly hectic, alternating studio recordings and live concerts, in Berlin, Vienna, Bayreuth, in Lucerne, in Paris, in Italy, even in Venezuela…
And it is precisely the last-named venue that is the recording of two concerts held in Caracas in March 1954 that we are reviewing here.
The programmes included Wagner’s Tann- häuser Overture, Richard Strauss’ Don Juan, Haendel’s Concerto Grosso op 6 No 10 and Brahms’ first Symphony, a repertoire tradition- ally addressed by the Master at least as regards first and last songs, the performance of
Haendel’s Concerto is rarer.
In addition, the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra – at whose helm Furtwangler conducted the concert – is certainly not comparable to the legendary Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, and the orchestral defects unfortunately have been captured quite distinctly.
Yet even in these conditions, Furtwaengler’s genius emerges triumphant: he, as usual, manages to obtain performances that are fully convincing – and always far from the routine – especially in the Strauss’ symphonic poem and in the Brahms first symphony, in which the Master’s concertising – sustained dynamics and sudden forward momentum – typical of a titanic interpretation of Brahms manages to make the most of an orchestra that is not excellent (but certainly galvanized by the conductor).
Amazon (Italy) review
Please note that this recording, although carefully re-mastered, has considerable sonic limitations due to imperfect original sources
Edited by Chris Brereton, Bournemouth
Published & © 2022