Beethoven: Symphony No 9 / Furtwangler, Schwarzkopf, Cavelti, Haefliger, Edelmann

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This performance of Beethoven’s Ninth is unquestionably the best that Furtwängler left us. It has all of his customary passion and spontaneity, but with really fine playing and singing. Some fans of the conductor prefer his infamous “Nazi Ninth”. Granted, that performance had Hitler and Goebbels in the audience, which is hard to beat, but this one isn’t without its extra-musical attractions. After all, Furtwängler died three months later, and death is always compelling, even compared to Nazis.

Given that the importance of the performance speaks for itself, collectors will want to know about the sonics. Originally released in 1994 on Tahra “from original sources”, that label repudiated its original issue in favor of one mastered, presumably, from an even more original source than the previous original source. The result, unsurprisingly, was disappointing as compared with the original original source release.

This newcomer claims to be the “First Master Release” from the “Original Tapes”. Frankly, I have no idea what that means, and even if I believed that it were true I couldn’t care less. My concern is with what the finished product sounds like. The original mono sonics were always quite good; this incarnation is also quite good, but not as good as that first Tahra release, which has the most brilliance and presence, especially from the chorus in the finale. Not a big difference, but a noticeable one, although turning up the volume on the Audite version minimizes even that. Ignore the fact that this disc has been remastered to SACD format, though. It matters not a whit.

Now that Tahra has tanked, the only question for collectors is whether or not they can still find a copy of the 1994 release, or if they should settle for this one. I’d be happy either way, and I suspect you would be too. It’s good to see this performance available once again; and minor sonic considerations aside, it’s important to support high quality independent labels such as Audite.

-- David Hurwitz,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: AUD92641

  • UPC: 4022143926418

  • Label: Audite

  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven

  • Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwängler

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Lucerne Festival Chorus, Philharmonia Orchestra

  • Performer: Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Elsa Cavelti, Ernst Haefliger, Otto Edelmann