Monthly Archives: January 2011

Furtwängler and Bruckner’s 9th

I acquired my first early Furtwängler LP a couple of days ago, the Bruckner 9 — LPM 18 854, Alle Hersteller label, 1963 copyright, from a 1944 performance. The label also states “Historische Aufname,” which I’ve never seen before.

I’ve always been averse to Furtwängler, and this recording doesn’t change my mind. Nothing to do with the Nazi business — I’m with Barenboim in that regard, though I part company with him in his oft-quoted view that he’d rather have Furtwängler with his scratches than Karajan with his lasers. At least with Bruckner 9 I’d rather have Karajan with his scratches.

Furtwängler is interesting in this piece, though. In that it doesn’t sound like Bruckner. It’s fluid, wafting around. Not like the cathedral of sound we get from Jochum. No mighty artifice of mind like we get from Karajan. What is he doing to Bruckner? How is it becoming so ethereal?

Maybe that is why people who love Furtwängler love him…

For me, though, this isn’t Bruckner. He is making light of it, playing with it. Maybe this is what he did with Nazism — didn’t treat it as the intensely serious thing that it was.

So Furtwängler will go into the eBay pile. It’s a nice copy, not as valuable as I thought it might be, research shows. I’m cutting him off now mid-way through the final movement, switching to Karajan’s 1966. His best one, of the many tries. First press, Made in Germany label. Glowing. Radiant. Jetzt sind wir feierlich.


Beni Mora

I discovered Holst’s Beni Mora through the superb Naxos recording with David Lloyd Jones, available in segments on YouTube, which has astounding sonics that match the drama of this underappreciated masterpiece. The orchestral color is every bit as vivid as The Planets. The offerings on vinyl are limited, with Boult’s Lyrita the best I’ve heard. Lloyd-Jones still wins…can we get Naxos to press a copy on 180 gram? While we’re at it, can we reach Edward Said from the world beyond and have him write the liner notes? I don’t have a copy of Orientalism, but Amazon look-inside tells me there are zero hits for Holst. But surely this would have interested him, given his love of Classical music and its role in culture.

Currently listening to a 10″ mono Beni Mora from Sargent and the BBCSO. It’s an Odeon label, dated 1958, and probably only exists in mono. The only discography I can find, at Wikipedia, doesn’t indicate stereo/mono. Sargent’s always seemed a bit bland to me, especially compared to his fellow Brits Boult or certainly Barbirolli.

His Beni Mora is interesting, somewhat slower than either Boult or Lloyd-Jones, but also a bit jauntier and rhythmic. Still, this one goes into the eBay auction pile. If you’re a vinyl-only person, go with Sir Adrian.