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Richard Strauss ~ New Year's Eve Concert Berlin 1992 / Argerich, Fleming, Battle, Abbado
Richard Strauss, Claudio Abbado, Martha Argerich
Richard Strauss ~ New Year's Eve Concert Berlin 1992 / Argerich, Fleming, Battle, Abbado
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1


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Argerich's Burleske
GOH AIK GUAN | Singapore, Singapore Singapore | 05/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I frequently come across CD recordings which I think are nice. Seldom do I sit up and reach for the remote to press the repeat button to hear a piece or movement again before running through the whole CD. Very rarely, do I do so for a piece which I don't quite fathom or like. But that was the case for Argerich's performance of Strauss' Burleske at the 1992 New Year's Eve Concert with the Berlin Phil. It's one of Stauss' early works, and though there are gems of ideas within, I am rather ambivalent about the structural coherence of the whole work. However, when I heard the Argerich recording, sit up and reach for the remote I did. More than that, I actually felt compelled to pen my reactions. This is virtuoso playing of the highest order and the work sounded fresh and almost great ! There are the note-perfect, thundering octaves at tempi which sound like single notes and the screaming runs. And of course, we all love to hear a pianist stretch the physical limits of piano playing. But listen on and you will hear pianism which has given Argerich the cult following that she has. The ensemble playing is faultless. For her overpowering personality, the result of Argerich's absence from the solo scene over the last decade or so and focus on chamber music, 2 piano works etc shines through. Her octaves and runs are not mere mindless display of her almost inhuman technique; they are peppered with subtle accents which I did not know exist, and one feels that there is a more basic reason for what she is doing, not just showing off. In the quieter moments, we hear another aspect of Argerich's art. Listen, for example, to her rendition of the slow coda theme in D minor. She caresses the keyboard, the music sings with a warmth which makes you forget that just a few bars ago, she was taming the Steinway beast in a way which few pianists can. There are times when she takes the music to the edge, and I wondered if the train would derail. But this is the master at the keyboard, and on repeated listenings, Argerich leaves one in no doubt that she was in total control.I searched for my other recordings of the Burleske among my collection which had gathered dust. I found Serkin and Gould. Mind you, Serkin's rendition is nothing to scoff at. The chordal work is awesome and there is that certain characteristic Serkin "animal" instinct in the playing. Gould? Well, I listen to him because, as Bernstein said, this is a thinking artiste who has something to say when he performs a work. His dance/waltz-like tempo allows him to bring out details of the piano writing which one doesn't notice even with the score staring in your face. But Gould's Burleske is full of idiosyncrasies and I couldn't help feeling that something is missing. I half suspect his unique posture at the piano, low chair etc, prevents him physically from actually portraying the piece in the way which Strauss had in mind. Bottom line: neither Serkin nor Gould offer that musical EXPERIENCE which Argerich's performance does, high voltage, molten lava, quiet warmth and all. I got my VCR of the NY Eve's Concert a few days ago. It's even more exciting to see the performance visually. I haven't digested the rest of the pieces on the CD or VCR simply because I couldn't resist reaching for the remote to repeat the Burleske. And I'm trying desperately to get the DVD. This is a performance to be kept for posterity."
GOH AIK GUAN | 06/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"OK, time to get into the spirit of Richard Strauss' amazing music - over the top, according to some - and haul out the superlatives.I don't know what sort of reticent, flaccid Strauss another reviewer here (or the Grammophone magazine reviewer he cites) has in mind in writing unfavorably about some of the playing on this disc, but I would urge readers to listen for themselves and see what their own ears tell them. This is one of the best Strauss albums in existence: A good selection of short, relatively early works, and some of the best Strauss playing - and conducting - ever committed to binary code.The center of gravity has to be the ferocious account of the Burleske for piano and orchestra, with the legendary fire-and-ice Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich at the absolute top of her game, and conductor Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic keeping pace perfectly, matching her stroke for stroke in a performance that somehow combines heaven storming with extraordinary nuance. They hold nothing back in this stylishly idiomatic, all-out tear through one of the most technically challenging pieces in the piano and orchestra literature. I think the version here tops even the legendary (and still great!) Serkin/Ormandy recording from the 1950s.Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel are well-worn war horses, but they sound fresh and audacious here, and, yes, the playing is thrillingly forward (I'll leave judgements of "aggression" up to other listeners), seeming to strain at the very limits of virtuosic power but, in fact, always under the perfect control of Abbado's sure, steady hand. I've heard numerous renditions of these great pieces, most of the modern ones and historic ones going back to the beginning of recorded sound, including legendary versions conducted by the great Wilhelm Furtwangler and by Richard Strauss himself. And of all the recordings of these pieces over the decades, including some truly excellent ones, I can think of none that I prefer to these two. If there were some theoretical encyclopedia associating great music with recordings that "defined" them, then these would be my nominees for Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel, on the basis of being the most perfectly Straussian.I'm less qualified to comment on the Rosenkavalier selection (readers might well surmise I'm temperamentally more closely aligned with the operatic Strauss of Salome and Elektra), though anyone who loves this composer's work will appreciate the soaring beauty of this music and of these wonderful voices. It's appropriate that, whereas each preceding track on this album of live recordings ends in silence, this one ends in warmly enthusiastic applause and cheers. Bravo, indeed.In addition to the above-mentioned virtues, the sound on this disc is bright, clear and generally very well balanced, and - importantly for Strauss - the horn sound is exceptionally warm and full-bodied, managing at crucial moments to achieve the bright orange timbre sought after by horn aficionados and Straussians alike (or aren't usually one and the same?). The piano is recorded with unusual clarity and body in the Burleske, and the voices seem well balanced, among themselves and against the orchestra, in Rosenkavalier."
Is it bad to want this CD just for the final trio?
Kwame Holmes | Florida | 09/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Cause thats why i bought it. And i was not dissapointed, All three women sound fantastic. I disagree with the person who said Kathy sounds out of sorts, she sings Sophies music perfectly here, and she is even MORE radiant in the final duet(which i think is even better than the trio) Flemming and Von Stade are predictably good, especially Von Stade who was hands down THE best in this role, no doubt about it. Now i wish these three had recorded the whole opera"