Music Feedback
New This WeekAround TownMusicFilmArtTheaterNews & FeaturesFood & DrinkAstrology
  HOME
NEW THIS WEEK
EDITORS' PICKS
LISTINGS
NEWS & FEATURES
MUSIC
FILM
ART
BOOKS
THEATER
DANCE
TELEVISION
FOOD & DRINK
ARCHIVES
LETTERS
PERSONALS
CLASSIFIEDS
ADULT
ASTROLOGY
PHOENIX FORUM DOWNLOAD MP3s



Edwin Fischer/Wilhelm Furtwšngler/Philharmonia Orchestra
BEETHOVEN: PIANO CONCERTO NO. 5, PIANO SONATAS NOS. 8 AND 23
(EMI)

Stars graphics

This 1952 recording of Beethovenís Emperor Concerto by Edwin Fischer and Wilhelm Furtwängler is one of the glories of recorded Beethoven performances. Two of the outstanding musicians of their generation work on the grandest scale, taking the notion of Beethovenís "heroic" style with absolute seriousness. The depth of Fischerís sound, one of the hallmarks of his playing, makes the famous opening cadenzas utterly arresting. The rest of the first movement has an inexorable forward momentum to it, yet pianist and conductor know how to vary tempos and dynamics to let the music breathe. The Adagio has a hushed intimacy that simply floats along in a different world from that of any other recording I know. The energy and grace that Fischer and Furtwängler bring to the Rondo finale give the lie to the image of turgid German romanticism that clings to both performers. Iíve always thought the Rondo to be the weak link in this great work, yet the poise with which itís played here almost convinces me that itís top-flight Beethoven.

The sonatas that fill out the CD are not quite on the same transcendental level. That magically warm sound is the principal attraction, and thereís some transparent playing in the Appassionata thatís a far cry from the hellbent virtuosity one expects in this work. But there are also numerous finger slips, and Fischer seems less sure of the structure, especially in the early Pathétique. These performances are never less than involving, though, and they provide decent filler for what should be considered absolutely essential Beethoven listening.

BY DAVID WEININGER

Issue Date: May 23 - 30, 2002
Back to the Music table of contents.


home | feedback | about the phoenix | find the phoenix | advertising info | privacy policy | the masthead | work for us

 © 2002 Phoenix Media Communications Group