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|Steven Isserlis, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks|
Richard Strauss: Don Quixote, Romance for Cello and Orchestra
Strauss's tone poem has had several outstanding performances over the years. Here's another one, powered by Steven Isserlis's sensitive interpretation of the conflicted Don. Most performances feature proficient cellists wh... more »
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Strauss's tone poem has had several outstanding performances over the years. Here's another one, powered by Steven Isserlis's sensitive interpretation of the conflicted Don. Most performances feature proficient cellists who play with the tonal and technical resources the part requires, but few feature playing that so completely characterizes the title character, with all his mad dreams, obsessiveness, conflicts, and regrets. Isserlis's Sancho Panza, violist Hermann Menninghaus, matches him, and Maazel elicits elegant, sensitive playing from his Bavarian band, including some delicious mimicry in the variation with the bleating sheep and wonderful solo turns by the wind players and the concertmaster. This orchestra's ripe, central-European sound is made for Strauss and is especially apt in this work. The fillers include two youthful pieces, a salon confection with orchestra and the seldom-heard Sonata, deftly played by Isserlis and Stephen Hough. But the Don's the prime attraction, and it's a beaut. --Dan Davis
Really evocative music, perfect playing, a great recording
C. Dyer | Washington, DC | 11/19/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You can't go wrong with this recording of the Don Quixote. Isserlis delivers another perfect recording, with such unflinching attention to artistic detail you can hardly help but weep. It would be hard even to conceive of music that is more evocative of Quixote's misadventures with bleating sheep, battling windmills, and Benedictine monks. But, despite all the high-tech special orchestral effects, the story's touching heart is never compromised.The other works on the recording are also nothing to ignore. The sonata, composed when Strauss was still a student, is given a very fresh reading. The Romance, although performed flawlessly, is, in comparison to the adventures depicted on the rest of the CD, a rather static affair."
Great performances. Recording flawed.
Tom Gossard | Los Angeles, CA United States | 10/11/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"[...]I have to turn up the volume so high to hear the soft passages, then turn it down again when the music gets louder. It really spoils the enjoyment. Even at very high settings, the subtle details are practically inaudible.
Too bad, since I like Maazel's and Isserlis's interpretations very much.
It might just be my equipment, though it is very competent. So I recommend buying this CD, but keep your receipt."
Strauss's mad knight sallies forth on four cylinders
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 06/10/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Maazel recorded most of Strauss's major orchestral works for RCA with his Bavarian Radio orchestra, the great attraction being state-of-the-art sonics. That's certainly the case here--this recording boasts enormous dynamic range and crystal-clear detail. Every instrument sounds natural and evokes its real color and timbre. I doubt there's another Don Quixote to compare with it.
Though he is recorded larger than life, Isserlis doesn't put on a bravura performance in the vein of Rostropovich. It's difficult to find a niche in the era of superstar cellists, and Isserlis goes the other way, preferring modest, even self-effacing musicianship. Maazel underplays the splashy orchestral part, so all in all, this performance seems overly cautious. I'm not sure Strauss wanted the mad Don to be sedate, but he's certainly sensitive and accurately played. After one listen, I think my only reason to return would be the sonics."