The Furtwänglerian art of conducting - 1943




The Furtwänglerian art of conducting: a panorama




Beethoven, Piano concerto n°4

Beethoven, Symphony n°7


by Felix Matus-Echaiz



Beethoven, Symphony n°5

by Sami Habra


Beethoven, Coriolan Overture

by Audrey Roncigli





                         Piano Concerto n°4           

                   Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

                  31.X.1943, Alte Philharmonie, Berlin


                     Live recording, balance Friedrich Schnapp

                                             CD SWF 941R


  I. Allegro moderato
0'55 - 1'25

Transition from one them to another is always treated by Furtwängler with an extreme care. Here is a good example of that. A long crescendo drives the first theme to its culminating point; The note "at the pick" marks a stop, to let the second theme develops. The pizz of the basses provides a solid basis to the theme.


  II. Andante con moto
1'45 - 2'20

No one but Furtwängler was able to go as far in taking advantage of the sound of the cords and of all their possibilities. Here the conductor build on the "weight" that cords can give to this moment. By playing "little expressive", which is one of the striking components of Furtwängler artistry, the maestro gives its full meaning to these measures.


  III. Rondo; Vivace
0'30 - 1'00

Flexibility in tempo and rhythm is among the basic principle of Furtwängler's art. But when the conductor decides to be "inflexible" in these two aspects, we get an impressive alliance of single tempo, precise rhythm and intense expression.

  (c) 2004    





                        Symphony n°7

                Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra

                 31.X.1943, Alte Philharmonie, Berlin


               Live recording, balance Friedrich Schnapp

                                      CD SWF 941R



I. Poco sostenuto; Vivace 
 0'00 - 0'35

Chords under Furtwängler's baton always sound like the release of an internal tension. The extreme tension brings the subsequent relief. Let's note another characteristic of Furtwängler's artistry : expression contains in balance both the preceding and the following.


  II. Allegretto
1’55- 2’28

Basses are the cornerstone of Furtwängler's orchestra. To build his crescendos Furtwängler always make them play slightly louder than the rest of the orchestra. The result is an impression of never ending crescendos.


  III. Presto

This extract is a great example of how Furtwängler masterfully make the orchestra vary the climates quickly, a mastery of his own. We move without transition from exaltation to meditation.  To achieve that, Furtwängler fully exploits the grasp on the violin which will quickly pass from «with expression» to «without expression».

IV. Allegro con brio

Furtwängler alone seems to have valued the importance of the short «piano subito» at the end of the symphony. With it, it's like a heart which stops beating for a brief moment, only to resume vigorously with the concluding measures of the symphony.



(c) 2004


The composer | The Man - | The conductor