Beethoven: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 9

COMPOSERS: Beethoven
LABELS: Music & Arts
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 3; Symphony No. 9
PERFORMER: Soloists; Vienna Singakademie, Vienna PO, Berlin PO/Wilhelm Furtwängler
It’s 50 years since Wilhelm Furtwängler’s death, and reissues of his concert performances continue apace: Music & Arts’s two-disc Beethoven set is a good introduction if you want to find out what all the fuss is about. The First Symphony (from 1952) has a weight which is completely unfashionable in early Beethoven nowadays, while the 1950 Eroica starts tamely, but soon finds its stride, with intensity growing through the funeral march and culminating in the last movement. The secret is in the organic rubato, backed up by an acute sense of sonority, not least in the strings. You only have to listen to the first statement of the big tune in the finale of the Choral Symphony to hear the intensity of the sound, built up from the firm, vibrant basses.