Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (soprano) Elisabeth Höngen (mezzo-soprano) Hans Hopf (tenor) Otto Edelmann (bass) Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra Wilhelm Furtwängler, conductor
Recorded during the performance of 29th July, 1951, at the Festspielhaus, Bayreuth
This Naxos Historical performance for the Great Conductors series was recorded during the performance of 29th July, 1951, at the Festspielhaus, Bayreuth. The re-opening of the Bayreuth Festival in 1951 represented a major step forward in the international rehabilitation of Germany following the end of the Second World War. As the leading conductor of his generation, Wilhelm Furtwängler was the obvious choice to conduct the opening performance of the Festival, traditionally devoted to a single work, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, the ‘Choral’.
This work had a deep spiritual significance for Furtwängler: he only agreed to conduct it on special occasions, and never made a studio recording of it. First released in 1955, after his death, the recording of this 1951 performance represents one of the most profound realisations of Beethoven’s masterpiece ever to have been committed to disc.
Praising Furtwangler’s earlier Naxos Historical release of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony last year (8110879), MusicWeb stated: “This disc offers a good example of why Wilhelm Furtwängler is regarded by so many good musical judges as a great conductor. These are performances that will grace any collection and I strongly recommend this disc.”