Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler already enjoyed a worldwide legendary standing during his lifetime he was considered the German conductor and performances were greeted with rapturous applause. Today, more than 50 years after his death, Wilhelm Furtwängler is still an icon and his work has become an integral part of the music scene.
Admirers of Karajan will probably own most or all of these symphony cycles from what was probably the pinnacle of the conductor's prolific career. However, if you are unfamiliar with Karajan's work, or well enough acquainted with it to desire further exploration, then this amazingly inexpensive anthology can be enthusiastically recommended. I purchased all of these sets when they came out in DG's previous mid-priced "Karajan Symphony Edition," and I can testify to their consistently oustanding quality, both as performances and as interpretations. As recordings, however, it must be admitted that the sound is of variable quality; sometimes admirably vivid and well balanced, but frequently tending toward harshness, even garishness–particularly in those which come from the early digital era (cf. Bruckner's symphonies 1-3). Too bad Universal didn't see fit to give this magnificent legacy a sonic facelift. Still, the performances are sufficiently worthy of your attention to warrant purchase regardless of these sonic limitations.
"The virtuosity and unanimity of the VPO strings command the highest respect. The grave opening fugue, the brilliant scherzo and the impassioned finale sound terrific … a fabulous disc." - Gramophone
Few conductors have made a greater contribution to our present-day understanding of Bruckner than Günter Wand (1912-2002).
This first box includes Bruckner symphonies nos. 5, 6 and 8 in their original or restored versions as well as an elegant, but rarely performed Haydn Symphony and the "Unfinished" symphonies by Bruckner and Schubert. Later, TDK released the second box of 4 DVDs including the popular Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 4 and 7 and symphonic works by Brahms and Schubert.
As a conductor, Sergiu Celibidache influenced as no other the musical life of Berlin, a metropolis still scarred by the war. The sound documents of this edition, most of which have not been previously released, for the first time paint a comprehensive picture of the conductor during the period between 1945 and 1957. These historic documents, providing new impressions of the legendary conductor, were revealed after intensive research.
A genial conductor with a particular gift for French music, Charles Munch extended the Boston Symphony's glory years (begun under the baton of Serge Koussevitzky) into the early 1960s. Munch was so venerated that conservative Bostonians even declined to fuss over rumors that he was having an affair with his niece, pianist Nicole Henriot-Schweitzer; they wrote it off as part of his romantic French nature. Paradoxically, Munch was not precisely French. He was born in Alsace-Lorraine, which at the time (1891) was controlled by Germany and has long hovered between two cultural worlds. Munch himself benefitted from both French and German musical training, and his first important musical posts were in Germany…