Listening to Furtwängler’s performances from the postwar period is to participate in some of the most intense realisations of the repertoire he held most dear, including that of Brahms with whom he shared a consuming interest in the roots of their German musical heritage. Both in his writing and interpretative stance, Furtwängler sought to attain the heart of Brahms’s idiom through the imagery of its connections with nature. The introduction to the Finale of the First Symphony is an obvious case in point. Having wound down the tempo of the preceding movement using the tonal possibilities of Brahms’s instrumentation to reflect a decidedly autumnal sunset, Furtwängler allows the music to emerge as though from darkest night with the Finale’s horn-call resounding with all the warmth and reassurance of a shaft of morning sun breaking through the mists.
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