Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
JPH | Crawley | 08/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It was, and still is, very difficult for Blomstedt to surpass his earlier version of "Heldenleben" with the incomparable Dresden Staatskapelle. Now, harnessed to the San Francisco symphony orchestra in this admirably well-recorded CD, Blomstedt reveals that his intepretation of this most ego-bathsome of Strauss's tone-poems remains little changed over the years. This second recording retains much of the pacing and phrasing of the earlier Dresden account, except that it happens to be with a different orchestra and the new "Pauline" soloist is not as memorably entertaining as the very experienced Mirring in the Dresden version. Also, excellent as the SFSO is, it cannot quite match the Dresdeners in generating the multi-hued, lush, idiomatically Straussian tones so essential in this repertoire --- sounding slightly colorless and steely in comparison. "Metamorphosen" is also nicely and sensitively done but fails to fully uncover the emotional depths revealed by Karajan in his digital version. Nevertheless this good CD is a worthy occupant for any Straussian's library. Under the guidance of Blomstedt, the SFSO is the best American orchestra to play Strauss competently in our modern times."
Blomstedt, San Francisco, And Strauss
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 07/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Under Herbert Blomstedt's 1985-1995 tenure as its music director, the San Francisco Symphony attained the same kind of world-class status that its bigger neighbor to the south, the L.A. Philharmonic, already had. One composer that the orchestra and its conductor were especially successful at was Richard Strauss. They made three recordings of Strauss' symphonic tone poems, of which this 1992 pairing of the gigantic (and brazenly autobiographical) "Ein Heldenleben" and the hugely mournful "Metamorphosen" is one.Taking his experience of having conducted Strauss while principal conductor of Strauss' favorite orchestra, the Dresden State Orchestra, Blomstedt leads the San Francisco Symphony in an immensely entertaining, dramatic, and blazing account of "Ein Heldenleben" that is almost certainly one of the best ever made by a non-European ensemble. The feeling one gets is not only making himself into a hero (given that this piece uses Beethoven's "Eroica" key of E Flat Major very prominently), but also arming himself against the critics that he often had to deal with after the work's premiere in 1898.The final work, "Metamorphosen", a study for 23 solo string players composed in 1945, is the work of a Strauss who was not only nearly half a century older than when he composed "Ein Heldenleben", but had also seen all the opera and orchestral stages he loved demolished in World War II. His anguish is made crystal-clear in this haunting piece, given great life by the S.F.S.O.'s string section.All in all, both a hugely entertaining (for "Ein Heldenleben") and emotionally moving (for "Metamorphosen") recording to look out for."