C0067. WILHELM FURTWANGLER Cond. Berlin Phil. & Vienna Phil.: Symphonies Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 & 9 (Bruckner). 5-Music & Arts 1208, recorded 1942-51. Transfers by Aaron Z. Snyder. Notes by John Ardoin, from his 1994 book THE FURTWANGLER RECORD. Final Copy! - 017685120923
“Furtwängler once said that ‘an interpreter can render only what he has first lived through’. Of all the conductors who have grappled with the complex challenges of the Bruckner Ninth, Furtwängler was best positioned to understand what Bruckner had achieved. Bruno Walter had hinted at this when he observed that he never understood Bruckner until he became mortally ill. The Ninth is not a failed attempt at a cohesive artistic statement. Rather, it is a complete and perfect musical depiction of a tortured mind: a desperate snatch at a vision that grew ever more elusive, a vain quest for understanding and fulfillment in a world that would not provide it, a fevered groping for fragments of life in the lengthening shadow of death. As he wrestled with his Ninth Symphony, Bruckner stood at the very edge of that abyss. By late 1944, Furtwängler stood there too. It took Furtwängler to recognize and recreate an absolutely perfect depiction of a single mind and, by extension, an entire world on the brink of collapse.
The Bruckner Ninth was the first work Furtwängler ever conducted in public and remained one of his favorites, but after this staggeringly intense performance, 7 October, 1944, he never touched it again; how could he?
A typical day toward the end of the Third Reich. In the Beethovensaal a concert is about to begin,Wilhelm Furtwängler conducting but the theater is empty, relieved of its usual audience studded with Nazi elite seeking a brief cultured respite from the stresses of war. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is on stage, awaiting its cue. Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler stands awkwardly on the podium. The vague meandering of his baton summons the first shadowy note of Bruckner's Ninth Symphony. A Radio Berlin engineer starts his Magnetophon. The most extraordinary orchestral recording of the century has just begun.”
- Peter Gutmann, CLASSICAL NOTES
"Using what's described as the 'revolutionary harmonic balancing technique' of one Aaron Z. Snyder, the sound here is clearer, cleaner, and more present than any heretofore. The recordings are manifestly antique; there's nothing like recordings made during the Second World War for pure antediluvian atmosphere. But Snyder's technique has allowed as much of the music as possible to emerge from the mists of time."
- All Music Guide