A Regal Emperor!

Which of us hasn’t dreamed of attending this concert, on 22 February 1951: the Emperor Concerto with Fischer and Furtwängler. It took place at the Royal Albert Hall, just after the recording sessions which immortalised a legendary performance and at the same time provided for thorough rehearsals.

The orchestra was the Philharmonia, founded only a few years earlier by Walter Legge, the artistic director at HMV, to satisfy his hunger for records at a time when the catalogues, restricted during the war years, were in urgent need of development.

ut it was also a normal orchestra with a regular season of concerts. To accompany the facsimile Philippe Jacquard has outlined the relationship between the great conductor and this superlative ensemble.

As always, the facsimile is also available from the concert and Get the programme! page.  

Over the airwaves…

The fact that we have so many recordings of Furtwängler today is due not only to the record industry, but as much or more to radio recordings. We certainly don’t have everything that was broadcast – not all transmissions were recorded, and not all recordings that were made have survived.

But Henning Smidth has undertaken the substantial task of cataloguing broadcasts of performances from 1929 to 1954. The list may not be complete, but it is very well documented with an abundance of detail. In it we find recordings that have become milestones, but also reasons for regret: why did this or that broadcast not survive? There is certainly enough here to fuel dreams of possible future discoveries.

For some years Henning Smidth has periodically updated his list; we present here the   2018 update.

Our new 2CD set

Our new double CD (SWF 181-2) will be available on Tuesday, February 20th.

An interview with Sami Habra a few weeks ago provided a foretaste of our issue of the Salzburg Fidelio of 1950 on two CDs. This Fidelio has everything going for it – very committed conducting, improved sound thanks to our in-house team of Sami Habra and Charles Eddi, and a superlative cast.

Visuel fidelio

And this is surely the very top of the range – the mighty Flagstad at her tragic peak, a deeply moving Patzak, Schöffler evoking an unusually dark Pizzaro, and the other roles entrusted to outstanding talents: Schwarzkopf as Marzelline, Dermota as Jaquino, Greindl as Rocco.

This 2CD album is offered at the attractive price of 18 €.

And out of consideration for anyone who might like to compare the 1950 vintage with that of 1948 (SWF992-3, with Erna Schlüter as Leonore), the SWF is also offering a package (SWF 189) bringing together the two albums (hence four CDs in all) at the unbeatable price of 24 €.

So, go to our on-line shop!

Furt’, Busch and Serkin

In the course of preparing a short study on Furtwängler and Max Reger, an anecdote has emerged featuring the conductor, the violinist Adolf Busch and the then very young pianist Rudolf Serkin.

There is nothing here of great importance, except that a careful examination of the facts leads to the conclusion — indeed an immutable principle — that one should always exercise vigilance when reading biographies. This little article Au cœur d’un continuo (‘At the heart of a continuo’) is reserved for members.

A vast web

The expression “surfing the web” is an image, but a very apt one. We have learned to navigate not just a wave but a real flood of information. At the same time the development of the internet has prompted many institutions to open their doors, indeed their cupboards and tape boxes, making a huge volume of material which they have progressively digitised available, if not to everyone then at least to a select few.

This has led us to make contact with these institutions, a step which until the last few years ago we would not have attempted. And we were wrong to hesitate, because in most cases the custodians of these treasures are delighted to be able to share their knowledge, provided that they are treated with respect and that we in turn raise awareness of their activities. In this spirit the SWF has established contacts with the Vienna Philharmonic, the Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome, the Stockholm Konserthuset, the Philharmonia in London (with less success), and also the Brahms Institute in Lübeck, the Reger Institute in Karlsruhe, the societies dedicated to Frida Leider, Erna Schlüter and Eduard Erdmann, and most recently the Hindemith Institute in Frankfurt, to whom we are indebted for a valuable document, the Schott press kit which accompanied the concerts of 11 and 12 March 1934

It hardly matters whether these contacts bring us minor details or great historical insights; such exchanges are essential, making us aware of the activities of others with mutually enriching effects.