Wednesday 25 January 2012

Furtwängler's Beethoven: Coriolan Overture, 1943

Today marks Wilhelm Furtwängler's one hundred-and-twenty-sixth birthday. Who knows whether Mahler or Wagner were 'greater' conductors? Here is unquestionably the greatest of whom we have recorded evidence, offering a flickering candle of hope during Germany's darkest night of the soul. 'Shattering' does not even come close to describing so magisterial a rebuke to Toscanini-like bandmasters and murderous politicians alike:

Max Reinhardt: 'People like Furtwängler must stay, if Germany is to survive.'

From Furtwängler's notebook in 1935: 'Art is truthfulness; what we have now is the opposite.'

Yehudi Menuhin: 'In listening to him, it is the impression of vast, pulsating space which is most overwhelming.'