Conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler requires no introduction. His recordings of Wagner and Beethoven remain among the most coveted and controversial ever committed to disc. Even Arturo Toscanini, usually regarded as Furtwängler’s complete antithesis, once said - when asked to name the world’s greatest conductor apart from himself - "Furtwängler!"
The music of Beethoven was central to Furtwängler’s art. The conductor found a primal energy in the music - a force of nature. Even in the First Symphony, Furtwängler discovers nuances that elevate the score from a mere late-Classical symphony standing in the shadow of Haydn into a dramatic prelude to what would flow from the composer’s pen later. However the major work on this historic program is Furtwängler’s own Second Symphony.
Wilhelm Furtwängler composed his Second Symphony between 1945 and 1946, following his resignation from his conducting posts in Germany and Austria in protest of Nazi cultural policy. As with many of Furtwängler’s other symphonic works, the Symphony No. 2 is very rarely performed, and has been the subject some of harsh critical attacks, though many of those may have been politically, rather than musically motivated. The Second Symphony is an expansive score, heavily indebted to the late-Romantic style of Anton Bruckner and Richard Wagner. The present recording, made in the last year of the maestro’s life, is made even more valuable as his musical Last Will and Testament.