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Great Conductors: Felix Weingartner

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 20, 2003
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Great Conductors: Felix Weingartner
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  • Great Conductors: Weingartner Symphonies 3 & 4
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  • Beethoven: Symphony No.5 / Symphony No. 6 / Eleven Viennese Dances
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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Egmont, incidental music, Op. 84: Overture
  2. Egmont, incidental music, Op. 84: No. 3 - Entr'acte No. 2 (Larghetto)
  3. Egmont, incidental music, Op. 84: No. 7 - Clarchens Tod
  4. Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92: Poco sostenuto - Vivace
  5. Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92: Allegretto
  6. Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92: Presto
  7. Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92: Allegro con brio
  8. Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93: Allegro vivace e con brio
  9. Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93: Allegretto scherzando
  10. Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93: Tempo di Menuetto
  11. Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93: Allegro vivace


Product Details

  • Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Felix Weingartner
  • Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Audio CD (May 20, 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • Run Time: 74 minutes
  • ASIN: B00008OP1A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,963 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 20, 2003
Format: Audio CD
A younger friend, otherwise fairly knowledgable about classical music, asked me who Felix Weingartner was. I was surprised that he didn't know of him, and it was then that I realized what a special service Naxos is doing by releasing this series of Beethoven recordings by a man I tend to think of as one of the first 'modern' conductors. I've raved previously about the Third, Fifth and Sixth Symphony releases, and here's another one that is a winner.
The Seventh and Eighth Symphonies, with Weingartner conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, are included here, as well as the familiar Egmont Overture plus two short excerpts from Beethoven's other incidental music for Goethe's play.
I had a music professor who always referred to the Seventh and Eighth Symphonies as 'the sunny ones,' and he was right. Although the Seventh is heroic in scope, it is unfailingly sunny in outlook and Wagner nailed it when he called the final movement 'the apotheosis of the dance.' The Eighth, which was written immediately after the Seventh, is in the same optimistic vein, although it is a slenderer (and perhaps more humorous) work. Weingartner apparently saw this connection, too, because he programmed the two together at times.
These recordings, from the 1930s, were famous in their day and should be well-known now as well. They would be, I suspect, if they were in modern sound. Weingartner's approach is fairly straightforward, but with subtle management of tempi and phrasing; there are no longueurs, no pushing and pulling tempi as some of his contemporaries did. The only obvious place where he departs slightly from Beethoven's markings (and it's really a matter of choice, I think) is the tempo of the trio and its repeat in the Scherzo of the Seventh; Weingartner takes it quite slowly.
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Format: Audio CD
To my ears, the Naxos series of Weingartner's historic Beethoven recordings has been something of a mixed bag (see my reviews of other entries in this series). Obert-Thorn's transfers of Weingartner's London-based recordings, Symphonies 2 and 4-6, strike me as the best we are ever likely to have. But the Vienna Phil. readings of 1, 3, and 7-9 have been taken from bass-deficient American Columbia 78s, and they have been subjected to various degrees of noise suppression. By contrast, the Opus Kura CD label (Japan) has taken a minimalist, undoctored approach using far fuller-sounding and more lifelike Japanese 78s (the original recordings of 7-9 were made by Nipponophone, a Japanese subsidiary of EMI). The result? Opus Kura has given us transfers of remarkable presence and immediacy that are simply astonishing in their sonic realism.
To make matters more difficult for the prospective purchaser, these superior Japanese transfers are coupled differently than the Naxos issues. Opus Kura 2038 has #1 and #7, whereas Naxos has #1 paired with its superb #2, and Naxos' #7 is coupled on this disc under review with #8. Opus Kura 2039 has #3 paired with #8 (while Naxos has #3 coupled with its excellent #4). Finally, Opus Kura 2040 has put Weingartner's legendary #9 with the Creatures of Prometheus Overture (the latter in a different take than the one used by Naxos). The Naxos 9th has as filler its magnificent Consecration of the House Overture.
The Opus Kura CDs cost fully twice as much as the Naxos issues, and I suppose you could call it yet another example of the old law of diminishing returns: the transfers are about 50% better and the cost is 100% higher!
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Weingartner's Beethoven Seventh was recorded the same year as Toscanini's Philharmonic account. No greater contrast can be imagined than between these two recordings. Weingartner succeeds where Toscanini fails, in giving the Symphony a buoyancy and grace that is completely destroyed by the Italian's characteristic metronomic haste. One very "individualistic" touch occurs in the First Movement Coda: Weingartner broadens the tempo at the very beginning of the Coda, applies quite massive rubati to the bass figurations, and holds to this slower tempo to the very end of the movement. By contrast, the Finale is a gradual and steady accellerando until the Coda is played with overwhelming Dionysian fury. The Eighth Symphony and "Egmont" Overture are likewise treated to supple and sensible tempo fluctuations which truly animate this "Vortrag." As in the Ninth Symphony, Weingartner shows himself to be a master of the Beethoven style, giving the music room to breathe, as well as maintain the structure of the work. The transfers are really superb. I love all the Naxos Weingarter reissues, but I must admit that the Vienna Philharmonic Beethoven series is especially precious to me. MORE WEINGARTNER, PLEASE!!!! BUT THE OPUS KURA IS EVEN BETTER!
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Format: Audio CD
The review of this disk by Jeffrey Lipscomb of Sacramento is one of the best I have read on Amazon. It is precise and very knowledgeable. It also distinguishes helpfully between the recent Naxos and Japanese Opus Kura transfers of these recordings by Weingartner.
However, I think I may be able to offer an even wider perspective on recordings by this very greatest of Beethoven conductors. Perhaps, actually, just greatest of conductors since his handling of the works of other leading composers is just as remarkable. Just off the top of my head I think of Mozart 39 from 1928 and Berlioz's Trojan March from ten years later.
It is important to appreciate that Weingartner's achievement in being the first to create 'a complete set' of the Beethoven symphonies by 1938 was ad hoc in that the 'set' consists merely of the last recording of a given symphony where more than version was made together, obviously, with the only recording where only one was made. Discounting a private recording of the Eroica Symphony made in 1935 which never seems to have seen the light of day and bearing in mind that there are no radio recordings available (unlike Toscanini) there are in fact 17 recordings of Beethoven symphonies by Weingartner, 3 acoustic and 14 electrical. If the acoustic Pastoral from 1924 of which only the first two movements had been recorded had been completed there would have been 18, an average of two recordings per symphony.
Because I like Weingartner's Beethoven so much I have CD recordings of all 17 available, initially mainly French LYS recordings but also Virgin France and a 5th and 7th with the old RPO from 1927 on the BBC 'Vintage Collection' but more recently from Naxos and Opus Kura.
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