Admit it: You thought we were gonna say Solti or von Karajan, right? Girls, girls, tuck your brass knuckles back into your Prada -- you're all pretty.
To celebrate Richard Wagner's May 22 bicentennial, Corriere della Sera ran two pieces tied into the current La Scala Ring Cycle, conducted (naturally) by MD Barenboim through June.
The ten conductors of the Scala Ring Cycle Clubhouse are a Mötley Crüe: Barenboim, Ettore Panizza, Riccardo Muti, Arturo Toscanini, Siegfried Wagner, Clemens Krauss, Franz von Hoesslin, Andre Cluytens, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Wilhelm 'Fuffi' Furtwängler, whose 1950 live appointment is available on a special Corriere 2-CD set to honor Wagner's 200th birthday.
Barenboim, the Giorgio Armani of classical music, (read: influential, independent, opinionated and not one to stand down from controversy) has a small interview on the CD's liner notes about Furtwängler's great capacity for Wagner's colossal Ring, which he admires. He believes that Furtwängler harmoniously brings together an impulsive enthusiasm, fluidity and he takes a unique, executive liberty where naturalism and symbolism exist together. Barenboim continues that Furtwängler put in all the right notes and especially everything that occurs between the notes, because he understood better than other conductors that the piece is about the principle of transition and of "becoming":
"He understood that in the Wagner Ring Cycle, the music 'isn't' but rather, it 'becomes'".
The second piece delves into Furtwängler's myth. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Gawd and the Word was Gawd, if only here, Furtwängler's gawds were his father's august dinner guests, the great icons of German Idealism.
A life mired in controversy over his ambiguous relationship with Nazism, the choice to remain in Germany after 1933 while his colleagues fled and his crafty subversion of the Third Reich, his protection of Jewish musicians and later, the icons who defended his reputation: Menuhin and Schoenberg, Barneboim and Gergiev.
So Wagner and Furtwängler, both polarizing, share common ties. But this week, we'll think of the music, the beauty, the perfection found in pull-quotes -- like Furtwängler on the love of his great love:
"The question of interpretation is, at the same time, complex and simple, just like in all cases where love plays a fundamental role. Making music -- as a composer, an interpreter or a performer -- is above all an act of love."