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29 March 2024

We recently announced the release of our next product: Bruckner’s 8th Symphony from 1954.

The audio quality of the recording is exceptional, comparable — to stick with the same period — to the Paris concert in May (Radio-télévision française) or Beethoven’s 9th in Lucerne (Swiss Radio).

Why? The answer is one word: the C12.

What lies behind this acronym? Read more.

22 March 2024

SWF D14 to be released: Bruckner’s 8th from 1954

SWF is releasing a recording of Bruckner’s Eighth Symphony, made during a concert in Vienna by the Wiener Philharmoniker on April 10, 1954.

Released on April 10, to mark the 70th anniversary of the concert

This performance has not been well received. When it was first published forty years ago, it even raised doubts: what if it were a fake? No, it is indeed a Furtwängler concert — and his last 8th — but the audio quality of this recording was so deplorable that it tended to be dismissed as a foul-smelling item.

But afterwards, the recording’s fate changed, with some very good reissues, and one might wonder whether listeners were struck by deafness. This performance must be heard in the exceptional sound of the recording: phenomenal dynamic gradations ranging from the edges of silence (solos at the end of the Adagio) to the volcanic eruptions of the Finale; a very wide sound spectrum; and an infinite palette of colors… A forthcoming article will shed some much-needed technical light on this.

On closer listening, we discover a performance that matches the conductor’s most recent interpretations of Beethoven, Schubert and others — typical of his latest style. Without the excesses of a Celibidache, Furtwängler deploys ample gestures, while remaining perfectly spirited, without the stress of the 1944 interpretation (due to the war). The pinnacle is undoubtedly the Adagio, a vision of another world… He has been criticized for using the “Haslinger” score, i.e. the first edition of 1892, and not the “Haas”. Furtwängler was no great admirer of Haas, and it is unclear whether the Philharmonic had the appropriate material. However, as in 1944, Furtwängler made his own slight amendments to the score. Christophe Hénault has devoted all his care to bringing this product to life, notably by removing wowing, tape skips and noises that interfered with the musical content, but without affecting the exceptional sound quality, as exemplified here (Beginning of 2nd movement. Warning: mp3).

This concert will be available for streaming (HD and SD), but we highly recommend downloading it. The digital pack (€10 ) will include:
– a comprehensive booklet with a text by Mark Kluge,
– with inside: a number of previously unpublished snapshots (rehearsals and concerts), such as the one below,
– a technical paper about recording,
– a facsimile of the programme,
– a podcast interview with Bruckner specialist Jean-Claude Hulot (Diapason, Res Musica…).

Wikipedia, the high priest of supposedly reliable information, states in its French article about the 8th Symphony, with reference to this recording: « The 1954 [version] is to be avoided: the interpretation lacks tension and the acoustics are poor… » Let the writer of this laconic judgment listen to the SWF publication!

Rehearsal, April 9, 1954

15 March 2024

Here is — click here — a facsimile of the programme of October 13, 14 and 15, 1940 at the Berlin Philharmonic.

It features an — exceptional if somewhat forgotten these days — pianist, Eduard Erdmann, already mentioned on this website.

Along with Furtwängler, he performed Chopin’s 2nd Concerto, as part of concert devoted entirely to Romantic music: Weber’s Oberon, Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique, and… Pfitzner’s Opus 46.

8 March 2024

In the news article of February 22, we raised an enigma: did Furtwängler perform in Berlin as early as 1915, long before he performed with the Philharmonic?

Investigations brought results: yes, Furtwängler did conduct the Blüthner Orchester in 1915. It was on March 19, in the Blüthnersaal photo below, for a charity concert to support survivors of the Navy.

Performing with him were Joachim’s pupil, violinist Waldemar Meyer (1853-1940), Austrian soprano Hedwig Francillo-Kauffmann (1879-1948) and baritone Sydney Biden (1873-1957).

The programme (compiled from articles):
– Gluck: Overture for Alceste,
– Beethoven: Leonore III Overture
– Strauss: Tod und Verklärung
– Mendelssohn: Concerto for violin (W. Meyer)
– with Hedwig Francillo-Kauffmann:
   – Haendel: Aria with flute, from L’Allegro, il Pensieroso ed il Moderato,
   – Verdi: Aria from Traviata and/or Meyerbeer: “Ombre légère” from Dinorah
– with Sydney Binen: Beethoven: “An die Hoffnung” (orch. Mottl)

1 March 2024

Selling off the stock of CDs and closing the box

You may have noticed some changes and new features here: a new look for the site, the introduction of streaming and the launch of the YouTube channel.

Now we’re making another major change: as the title says, we’ve decided to sell off our stock of compact discs and close the storage space (a car park box).

Of course, it is your right to know the reasons for this.

Sales of our CDs have fallen off sharply over the last 2 or 3 years. At present, they barely cover a third of the annual cost of our box (rent and insurance), so we’re losing several hundred euros a year — money we could use better elsewhere.

On the other hand, since 2017 we have stopped publishing physical media and moved towards downloading, supplemented by streaming. The references currently on CD will not disappear: they will gradually be streamed. In a way, this change is a logical follow-up to those made since the last General Meeting, during which we promised you a renewed and modernised SWF.

To clear our stock, which still contains more than 4,000 items, we are offering a final sale consisting of a pack (SWF 2024) containing one copy of each available reference of the French society’s CDs, referenced SWF xxx. — View the catalogue

To order : SWF 2024

The price is €30

Shipping costs of €10 (France/EU/Switzerland/Monaco) or €20 (rest of the world) will be charged in addition.

This special promotion runs from March 1 to March 22. Orders will be dispatched between 23 March and 10 April.