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Richard Lawrence
Classic FM, June 2008

The photograph on the cover shows a different Wilhelm Furtwängler: a young man, admittedly with a receding hairline, and not the gaunt, bald figure that we are used to. These recordings were made between 1929 and 1937: the latest is Eine kleine Nachtmusik, which Furtwängler plays with a fine mixture of virility and grace. The Marriage of Figaro Overture also fizzes along, so atmospherically that you almost expect the curtain to rise on the first act; the Entführung Overture has an inauthentic, protracted 'concert ending'. A particular delight is the way the violins' bows bounce off the string in the Rosamunde Overture. Leaden, unstylish performances of Bach should not deter anyone from investigating this thoroughly enjoyable reissue.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2008

Naxos Historical has already given us the great recordings made by Wilhelm Furtwangler during his Indian Summer years

Naxos Historical has already given us the great recordings made by Wilhelm Furtwangler during his Indian Summer years, and now delves back to those discs he made before 1940. Thankfully we have stylistically come a long way in our appreciation of the music of Bach since these recordings were made in the 1930’s, Furtwangler’s lugubrious and heavy-handed approach to the Third Brandenburg Concerto will amuse modern ears, while the portentous Berlin Philharmonic trudge unsmilingly through the Air from the Third Suite. Things improve as we buzz happily through the overture to Mozart’s La nozze di Figaro and there is much to admire in the overture to Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail. We return to the Germanic weightiness for Eine kleine Nachtmusik devoid of that transparent sprightliness we enjoy today, the phrasing often short and lumpy, the performance as a whole exonerated by the happy finale. Excerpts from Schubert’s incidental music to Rosamunde more readily accepts this heavy treatment, the admirable playing of the Berlin orchestra heard at its best. Once again the Naxos restoration is very good, the inner clarity unbelievable for its time of recording.

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