Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
A great new alpine experience
Mr Darcy | Australia | 06/09/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This recording is the third instalment of a Strauss cycle involving the Staatskapelle Dresden and their recently appointed principal conductor, Fabio Luisi (the other two instalments being Don Quixote and Ein Heldenleben). I do not know much about Luisi and have not heard those other recordings, but if they and future recordings in this project are of this quality this Strauss cycle will be special.
Pictorially, this is one of the most vivid versions of Eine Alpensinfonie that I've heard. "By the waterfall - apparition", for example, sparkles irridescently, "in a mountain pasture" almost brings a whiff of manure such are the bucolic sounds produced by the woodwinds - a very funny moment, and "on the glacier" conveys impending steepness and danger with brass playing of bite and brilliance. There have been more fierce storms (eg Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic), but Luisi's still rumbles impressively, and every strand of this section's dense orchestration is caught to thrilling effect.
In the notes, however, Luisi is quoted as saying that Eine Alpensinfonie is not simply tone painting but rather "impressions of nature filtered through human experience." Well put. This music is full of emotion, whether it be the sense of ecstasy/heroism caught "on the summit" or the touching nostalgia which infuses "sunset" and "epilogue". Luisi and the orchestra, with their warm, pliant and natural phrasing of Strauss's melodies, convey these emotions but without going over the top. Another strong feature of the performance is the pacing - within a fairly expansive approach, Luisi ensures that one episode leads seamlessly onto the next.
Throughout this performance, Luisi is aided by two things: first, the phenomenal playing of the Staatskapelle Dresden - rich strings, piquant winds, weighty, rounded brass and resplendent horns; second, the recording, which must be one of the best accorded to this work - the depth of perspective, even on the standard cd layer, is astonishingly good.
Anja Harteros brings a freshness and intimacy to the four last songs, although she is somewhat too forwardly balanced for my tastes. Speeds are flowing, and the orchestra produces radiant sounds.
Indeed, the "Alpine" is outstanding
B. Guerrero | 07/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The "Alpine" symphony is far better than the Four Last Songs on this CD. Then again, I got this for the Alpine. When I'm in the mood for the 4 Last Songs, I'll gladly settle for Jessye Norman or Karita Mattila (they're very different). But let's get down to brass tacks (no pun intended): this is at least the fourth commercial recording of Strauss' Mahlerian-scaled "Alpine" symphony from the Staatskapelle Dresden (previously: Bohm, Kempe, and Sinopoli). But this one may very well the best of the lot. At the very least, it's certainly the best recorded one of the four. The playing is fabulous - naturally - and Luisi doesn't make a wrong move anywhere. The "Summit" passages are plenty broad, without being stretched ridiculously thin in the brass (hey, they've got to breathe sometime!). I suppose the "Storm" passage could have had a touch more input from the wind machine and thunder sheet (on the Sinopoli DVD, it looks like a long cookie sheet, or a thin oil pan). But we get the idea: it's a storm! That storm also contains some incredibly dense polyphony (many voices blasting out at once), and the Dresdeners clarify all that noise about as well as one could possibly hope for. Needless to say, all the softer and slower passages are executed superbly well too.
What's the use!?! - I could blather on and on about how great this is. In short, if you truly love the Alpine symphony, get this! (and if it's the Four Last Songs you're after, look elsewhere)."