FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms (1942-52) - PABX026

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FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms (1942-52) - PABX026

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Overview

BRAHMS Symphony No. 1
BRAHMS Symphony No. 2
BRAHMS Symphony No. 3
BRAHMS Symphony No. 4
BRAHMS Double Concerto
BRAHMS Violin Concerto
BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2
BRAHMS Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn
BRAHMS Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 2, 10
BRAHMS Variations on a Theme by Haydn
SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A minor

Willi Boskovsky, Emanuel Brabec, Yehudi Menuhin, Edwin Fischer, Walter Gieseking
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Lucerne Festival Orchestra
Recorded 1942-1952

conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler


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This set contains the following albums:

Click below to expand note:
FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms Symphony No. 1, Haydn Variations, 3 Hungarian Dances (1949/52) - PASC340

"The performance is incomparable" - and now, so too is the sound quality

Furtwängler's finest Brahms 1 has never sounded as superb as this!


If I could nominate whole of this album as a showcase not only for superlative historic performances but also for the astounding sound quality occasionally to be found lurking in the gloomy grooves of older recordings then I would. The tone of the Vienna Philharmonic both in the live 1952 concert recordings and the earlier studio recordings, after Pristine's 32-bit XR remastering, is finer than I could have believed possible when I started the project.

The live recordings do have the edge over the older Hungarian Dances, which retained a degree of 78rpm crackle that was tricky to remove. It's also interesting that most discographies and reissues have followed the error in the original release and titled one of them as Hungarian Dance No. 3 in F - it's not, it's No. 10 in F.

Analysis of the pitches and residual electrical hum in each of the recordings, from three separate sources, consistently pointed to a tuning used by the VPO at the time of around A4=446.4Hz. I have accurately pitched each recording to this to give the most accurate picture possible of both the sound and pace of these performances.

Andrew Rose

FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms Symphony No. 2, Double Concerto (1952) - PASC341

Two major live Brahms recordings from 1952

Furtwängler's Brahms has never sounded as superb as this!


Both of these live recordings were made in the year of 1952 at a time when technical sound quality was undergoing a revolutionary step forward thanks to the advent both of tape and vinyl LP technologies almost simultaneously. However the equipment of the day was not without its sonic shortcomings, and both of these recordings suffered a slightly harsh, boxy sound quality in their original states. Fortunately this can now be largely remedied by Pristine's 32-bit XR remastering system, which has made great strides in improving the tonal qualities of both the Symphony and Concerto recordings.

In both cases the orchestras played slightly sharper than the standard A=440Hz, and I've used careful analysis of electrical tones captured in both recordings from mains interference as a guide to set pitch precisely to that heard at each concert. The end result of this work is to bring us closer than ever before to the sound of these concerts as heard by Furtwängler and his 1952 audiences.

Note that the lack of applause and movement breaks were as found on my source material.

Andrew Rose


FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms Symphony No. 3, Violin Concerto (1949/54) - PASC342

Furtwängler's finest performance of the Brahms Third

Coupled with the legendary 1949 studio Violin Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin


The main technical challenge here, and one which has been met only up to a point, was the tonal "grittiness" imposed on certain instruments, most especially Menuhin's violin, by EMI's primitive tape machines during the recording of the Violin Concerto. It's a form of very fine flutter which is exceptionally difficult to lessen and which has always marred this recording.

This aside, both recordings offer particularly fine sound quality following XR remastering - in particular the Symphony recording sounds truly excellent. I've also been able to fix a marked jump up in pitch at 13:15 in the first movement of the Violin Concerto, suggesting the joining of two takes from machines running at different speeds, as well as other pitch anomalies present in the earlier recording.


Andrew Rose


FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms Symphony No. 4, Haydn Variations (1943) - PASC344

Furtwängler's legendary 1943 Brahms Fourth and Haydn Variations

An astounding sonic revelation from these new XR remasters


The two recordings presented here both originated at the same concerts, which took place at the Alte Philharmonie in Berlin on 12 and 15 December 1943. They first appeared on Soviet Melodiya LP pressings in the 1960s, the recordings having disappeared into Russia at the end of the war.

The present transfers were made from an EMI LP issue. Despite the common source, there are some clear sonic differences between the two recordings, with the Haydn Variations having survived in slightly better condition than the Fourth Symphony. The latter, too, was pitched significantly higher in its EMI release than the Variations - a ridiculously unrealisting A4=455Hz compared to a far more believeable 442Hz. The latter tallies up with readings of AC electrical hum present in both recordings, and it is to this pitch that the present issue has been matched.

XR remastering has done much to improve the sound of the originals, bringing a wonderful new sense of life to the orchestra and rounding out the lower end magnificently. Likewise the top end is remarkably extended for a recording of this vintage, though unfortunately the recording equipment of the day was prone to slight overload distortion at the loudest sections, something I've attempted to alleviate as much as is possible.

Elsewhere the sound quality is quite astonishing! I've also done away with a number of coughs and sneezes from a Berlin audience that sounded not in the best of health at the time.

Andrew Rose


FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms Piano Concerto No 2, Schumann Piano Concerto (1942) - PASC347

Furtwängler and Fischer deliver a classic Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto

Delivered here with a fullness and presence that only adds to the experience


Both of these wartime recordings originated as radio broadcasts and were among a number which disappeared into the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. They suffer similar defects to the majority of Furtwängler's wartime broadcasts, both in sound balance and distortion during louder passages. My aim has been to minimise the effect of these and to try and round out the rather poor, one-dimensional sound of the originals.

The better sound is to be found in the Brahms, which has greater top-end frequency extension, and is without doubt the star performance here - it sounds remarkably well given its origins, with the full and rich orchestral sound coming across particularly well. A slight fuzziness in the piano's sound detracts little from a stunning overall effect.

The Schumann concerto, Furtwängler's only surviving recording of the piece, is perhaps less successful both as performance and recording, but is at least much cleaned up over previous issues.

Andrew Rose


Click below to expand track listing:
FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms Symphony No. 1, Haydn Variations, 3 Hungarian Dances (1949/52) - PASC340


  • BRAHMS Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68
  • BRAHMS Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn, Op. 56a

    Recorded live, 27 January 1952, in the Großer Musikvereinssaal, Vienna
    Transfers from EMI LP 27 0124 1 and EMI LP SG 153-53669 M 

  • BRAHMS Hungarian Dances Nos. 1, 2, 10

    Recorded 29/30 March & 4 April, 1949, in the Großer Musikvereinssaal, Vienna
    Issued as HMV DB.6976, Matrix No. 2VH.7168 and HMV DB.6934 Matrix No. 2VH.7167 
    Transfers from EMI LP SG 153-53665 M 

    Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra 
    Wilhelm Furtwängler conductor


XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, May 2012
Cover artwork based on photographs of Brahms and Furtwängler

Total duration: 75:06

FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms Symphony No. 2, Double Concerto (1952) - PASC341


  • BRAHMS Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73
    Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Transfer from EMI LP SG 153-53668 M 
    Recorded live, 7 May 1952, Deutsches Museum, Munich


  • BRAHMS Double Concerto in A minor, Op. 102
    Willi Boskovsky violin 
    Emanuel Brabec 
    cello
    Vienna Philharmonic
     Orchestra
    Transfer from EMI LP SG 153-53669 M 
    Recorded live, 27 January 1952, Großer Musikvereinssaal, Vienna 


    Wilhelm Furtwängler conductor


XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, May 2012
Cover artwork based on photographs of Brahms and Furtwängler

Total duration: 75:57

FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms Symphony No. 3, Violin Concerto (1949/54) - PASC342


  • BRAHMS Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90
    Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Transfer from DGG LP 2535 163 
    Recorded live, 27 April 1954 at Titania-Palast, Berlin by RIAS Berlin

  • BRAHMS Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 77
    Yehudi Menuhin violin
    Lucerne Festival
     Orchestra
    Transfer from EMI LP SG 153-53666 M Recorded 7 October 1949, Lucerne 
    First issued as HMV DB.2100-3 & DBS.210904 Matrix Nos. 2ZA63-71 

    Wilhelm Furtwängler conductor


XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, May 2012
Cover artwork based on photographs of Brahms and Furtwängler

Total duration: 76:24

FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms Symphony No. 4, Haydn Variations (1943) - PASC344


  • BRAHMS Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98
    Transfer from EMI LP SG 153-53662 M
    Recorded 12/15 December 1943
    Alte Philharmonie, Berlin
    First issued as Melodiya D 09867/8

  • BRAHMS Variations on a Theme by Haydn, Op. 56a
    Transfer from EMI LP SG 153-53662 M
    Recorded 12/15 December 1943
    Alte Philharmonie, Berlin
    First issued as Melodiya D 010854

    Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Wilhelm Furtwängler conductor


XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, June 2012
Cover artwork based on photographs of Brahms and Furtwängler

Total duration: 60:30

FURTWÄNGLER conducts Brahms Piano Concerto No 2, Schumann Piano Concerto (1942) - PASC347


  • BRAHMS Piano Concerto No. 2 in B flat, Op. 83
    Edwin Fischer piano 
    Transfer from EMI LP SG 153-53661 M 
    Recorded 8 November 1942, Alte Philharmonie, Berlin

  • SCHUMANN Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54
    Walter Gieseking piano 
    Transfer from DG LP 427 773-1 
    Recorded 3 March 1942, Alte Philharmonie, Berlin

    Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    Wilhelm Furtwängler conductor


XR remastering by Andrew Rose at Pristine Audio, June 2012
Cover artwork based on photographs of Brahms and Furtwängler

Total duration: 77:26