An immediate challenge for conductors is presented with the first two notes. The score gives no indication that they should be played other than in tempo with the rest of the movement. Yet, they do serve a special function and, as documented by Grunin, the vast majority of conductors slow them down as much as 60%, so as to magnify their feeling of weight and authority. Ironically, the most extreme instances are from such literalists as Toscanini, Reiner and Ansermet. Most conductors decelerate the notes only slightly, and only a few accelerate the opening chords, as if to lend them added urgency, but rarely by more than 10%, so the impact is barely noticeable. Grunin notes that a disproportionate majority of the extremists are non-German.
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