Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 7
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra & Wilhelm Furtwängler
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Greatest Fifth ever
This is simply the best Fifth ever recorded. It blazes with focus from a driven first movement to a maniacally intense finale. The sound is not as good as the studio recordings EMI made (or the Seventh on this album), but it's tolerable. The Seventh here is also very, very good.
DG Furtwangler Symphonies 5 & 7
Can someone please tell me why Furtwangler is absent from the Penguin Guide to Compacts & CD's treatment of the [top] recordings? I truly don't get it...this reading should at least rank with that of Bruno Walter and Von Karajan, who are listed.
I would agree that his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th movements do not compare to those of Carlos Kleiber, though many would argue, not unrightly, that Kleiber's 1st movement also surpasses Furtwangler. I, however, prefer Furtwangler's slower tempo-- Furtwangler's gravitas wins out over Kleiber's hushed, but a bit frantic, intensity, IMO.
I was so disappointed with the sound quality of these recordings that I couldn't enjoy the symphonies. Muddled passages, timpani drowning out the rest of the instruments. It even sounds like the recording starts a half-measure too late on the opening chord.