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Wilhelm Furtwängler: Das Vermächtnis / The Legacy Box set

35 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, April 26, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler 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 Furtwangler is still an icon and his work has become an integral part ofthe music scene.
But just what makes up this fascination? And what makes his recordings so special? This edition provides the answers.
These 107 CDs contain all the works Furtwangler ever recorded for release on record - and the "live" recordings he made for radio broadcast. In the case of different versions of the same work having been produced (for example there are 12 recordings of Beethoven's Eroica!.0 the best, most beautiful, or the most exciting interpretations have been chosen for this edition. In addition the numerous bonus CDs and tracks present excerpts taken from alternative recordings.
From his very first recording (Weber's Freischiitz Overture, 1928) to his very last (Wagner's Valkyrie, 1954), this edition features productions of all the Beethoven and Brahms symphonies, the complete Rome recording of Wagner's Ring, recordings of the famous symphonies composed by Schubert, Schumann, Bruckner and Mozart, highlights taken from the Salzburg recordings of Don Giovanni, Magic Flute and Figaro, a live Bayreuth recording of Mastersingers etc. etc. etc.
The edition has been complemented by recordings of rehearsals and interviews. In addition the recording of the famous Salzburg song recital in 1953 reflects on the pianist Wilhelm Furtwangler as accompanist to Elisabeth Schwarzkopf.
Furthermore, the edition contains a DVD with a video clip featuring the famous music critic Prof. Dr. Joachim Kaiser, who provides the answer to the question: why is Wilhelm Furtwangler still the most famous conductor in the world?

Product Details

  • Conductor: Wilhelm Furtwängler
  • Audio CD (April 26, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 107
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: RED GENERAL CATALOG / Membran
  • ASIN: B004JC16LC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,592 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

293 of 300 people found the following review helpful By T. Fisher TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 26, 2011
Format: Audio CD
Update May 18, 2011: I am upgrading my review of this set from four to five stars after listening to samples from all the tracks by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Bruckner, and Wagner. While not all of these are the greatest performances or have the best sound available, the overall quality is impressive indeed -- a better ratio of hits to misses than I have experienced on other releases by the Membran label.

For example, a comparison with the recently released boxed set Wilhelm Furtwangler: The Great EMI Recordings in cases where the performances here and on that set are identical, shows that with only a few exceptions this collection has at least as good sound as the EMI, if not better. Frequently the EMI versions show overly aggressive noise reduction that has sucked the brightness out of the high end of the original recordings.

The recording of Tristan und Isolde was a pleasant surprise, beating out the EMI. And the Wagner Ring cycle performed with Italy's RAI Orchestra is pretty good -- it has significantly better dynamics than the off-brand transfer I currently own. (But note I haven't heard the Gebhart, which is supposed to be the reference edition.) However, Bach's St. Matthew Passion is just OK as it suffers from some distortion -- not quite up to another transfer I've heard. That is the most significant disappointment so far, although even there the recording is listenable.

When this set arrived, the first thing I noticed is the size. It is truly enormous. I have a few of the big EMI box sets from a few years back -- like Karajan
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59 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Y.P. on November 20, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
It seems counter-intuitive that the legacy of Wilhelm Furtwängler (1886-1954) should keep growing more than half of century after his death. Even though he was one of the most revered conductors in the second quarter of the 20th Century, he disliked recordings and left few studio recordings. He has no disciple, found no school and produced no student. Much too often his name was (unjustly) linked to the Third Reich. In spite of these, Furtwängler continues to give electrifying experiences to those who hear him the first time from dimly recorded performances. He continues to exert a magnetic, mystic, even mythic pull on the countless music lovers who were born many years after his death. Not only that, many of the greatest musicians, including Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Karl Böhm, Alfred Brendel, Maria Callas etc., revered him as the best, the ideal, the unique. Why?

Anyone who has the ears for historical recordings can find her/his answers in this box. T. Fischer has listed the contents and made some comparisons of this transfer with others. Here I will provide only a few additional remarks.

1. This box is very well-organized. The big box houses 11 small boxes, and each small box can easily fit the usual CD shelves. This design makes the individual CDs easily accessible.

2. Many of the transfers are good. For individual performances, one can often find superior transfers, like those from Gebhardt, Naxos Historical, Music & Arts, etc.. However, the transfers are often above average and in some cases superior to the ones I own.

3. The selection is good, and covers all important areas of Furtwängler's legacy. In fact, the editors in Membran claimed to capture all the works of which Furtwängler made recordings.
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55 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Alden 4 on September 19, 2011
Format: Audio CD
This is a behemoth of a set; 14.5 x 5.0 x 6.0 inches of Furtwangler! I have dabbled my way through about 30 of the 107 (plus DVD and CD-ROM) discs here, mostly the recordings I have not heard before. All of them sound great given their age and the circumstances under which they were made. A few quibbles: I would have liked to have had the La Scala Wagner Ring complete, rather than 2 discs of excerpts; these two excerpt discs prove the La Scala performances to be superior to the (included complete) RAI Rome ones, though the Rome recordings DO have superior sound. Also, much as I love the Bayreuth 1951 Beethoven 9, I love the 1942 9th, and other wartime Beethoven recordings (a few excerpts are included on the "bonus" discs). Of course, I already have those sets, so this is just quibbling. This set is all the Furtwangler neophyte needs until they become a fanatic about it and "need" to become OCD completists (which, ironically, is why I bought this set). The long (literally) and short of it is, this is a fantastic box set at a great price, organized REALLY well in sturdy boxes. Even if you have half of these recordings in other incarnations, this set is STILL a deal!
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By J. D. Wood on February 17, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
107 CDs dedicated to a conductor who died in 1954 may seem obsessive to some, but there are so many treasures in this magnificent set that a few deficiencies in sound quality are of little importance. Who would not want to hear the world premiere of Strauss's Four Last Songs with Kirsten Flagstad, however rough the sound may be? Many of the recordings are from live performances during the 1940s and 50s, and most of these sound very well for their age.
It may be supposed that a set of this magnitude includes every available recording by this great conductor, but this is far from being the case. Instead, the compilers have sought the best Furtwangler versions of each work, with excerpts from some of the alternative recordings. This is a reasonable compromise, but it does mean that the Furtwangler completist must seek out another 9 versions of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony and much more.
Highlights are too numerous to list in full, but the Mozart and Wagner operas rank highly, as do the Tchaikovsky and Beethoven Symphonies. Hearing the conductors own symphonies is of more than passing interest.
Blemishes that should have been noticed during the digital transfers include an abrupt change in sound level during the slow movement of Tchaikovsky's 5th symphony and the clipping of the first note of the 3rd movement of Mozart's Symphony no. 40 - a fault that is also to be found on the EMI and Naxos transfers, but not on the original 78 rpm or LP versions. One must suppose that EMI licensed their CD transfer to other companies.
A surprising inclusion is Strauss's Don Juan with the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra, recorded on 21st March 1954. The sound is poor when compared with another version apparently recorded on the previous day with the Caracas Symphony Orchestra.
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