Title: Brahms Symphony No. 1 & Variations on a theme by Haydn
Artist(s): Wilhelm Furtwängler & The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Recording Info: Berlin Phiharmonic Orchestra 1952 (op. 68) and 1950 (Op. 56a)
Transferred from tape by HDTT - Remastered and edited by Eduardo Chibás
From the first time I heard this Brahms Symphony No. 1 on LP many years ago, I have always felt that it was the best performance of this work that I know. There are some wonderful performances with other orchestras, including some beautifully played Vienna Philharmonic performances, but this Berlin interpretation has an inner strength and drive that is unique. Only the last movement in a wartime recording with the same orchestra is perhaps superior in incandescence, but unfortunately incomplete.
There are many performances of the Haydn Variations conducted by Furtwängler, and most are very good. This is among the finest. Unfortunately, there is some surface "crackle" in some fortissimo passages, but it is not too bad.
In general, the sound in both performances is excellent, with a deep base and great detail.
- Eduardo Chibás