Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Richard  Strauss, Herbert Blomstedt, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra|
Richard Strauss: Rosenkavalier Waltzes; Burleske; Capriccio Sextet
This recording presents a cross-section of Strauss' compositions spanning more than half a century. The Burleske for piano and orchestra, written when he was 20, opens with a burst of youthful exhilaration and is full of c... more »
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This recording presents a cross-section of Strauss' compositions spanning more than half a century. The Burleske for piano and orchestra, written when he was 20, opens with a burst of youthful exhilaration and is full of confident high spirits, vigor, and vitality. Its drama and comedy, songful lyricism, romantic ardor, ironic humor, airy lightness, and delicacy herald Strauss' operas, while its glittering, masterful orchestration anticipates his symphonic poems. The piano part is brilliantly virtuosic and fiendishly difficult (Bülow, for whom Strauss wrote it, rejected it as unplayable), but Thibaudet's performance is fabulous: not only stunning technically, but absolutely "right" in its improvisatory liberties, its expressiveness, its mercurial mood changes and transitions, and its joyful exuberance. By contrast, Capriccio, Strauss' last opera, composed between 1940 and '41, is born of supreme, mature compositional mastery, but also of disillusionment and resignation. The Sextet functions as a prelude; its quiet, gentle serenity presages the opera's character with a luxurious warmth and soaring radiance that triumphs over the somewhat dry, earth-bound performance. Complementing these relatively unfamiliar works is the most popular excerpt from Strauss' best-loved opera: two sets of Waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier. The first, arranged by the composer, is incomparably better than the anonymously compiled second one: it contains the most beautiful waltzes in a more cohesive, organic sequence, and the orchestration is vintage Strauss at his scintillating best. The playing is a bit pedestrian, but the violin and woodwind solos are lovely. --Edith Eisler
OK but better options available
Larry VanDeSande | Mason, Michigan United States | 11/07/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I am a fan of Herbert Blomstedt but not much of an admirer of Strauss's "Burleske" for piano and orchestra. I don't find much in this performance that changes my opinion of this youthful piece, which never seems to know what it wants to say or where it wants to go. The recording is distant and casts Thibaudet's playing as if he is in the corner of the hall and the recording mikes some distance away.
THe waltz sequences from "Rosenkavalier" are much better and the recordings are better, too. Blomstedt does good work in them and the Gewandhaus Orchestra is with him all the time.
The fly in the ointment is this: there are outstanding performances of the same music available by several performers. The recording of Jesus Lopez-Cobos leading the Cincinnati Symphony in an expanded set of the Rosenkavalier waltzes blows away this recording by a mile. It is more Straussian, more extrovert, better played and better recorded. That version also contains Jeffrey Kahane's version of the insipid "Burleske" also.
The unique element of this CD is the "Capriccio" sextet, a piece from Strauss's last opera when his music was approaching modernism and reflected some of the disillusionment of the European war then going on.
I've never seen the opera but, to me, the sextet is not very happy music. It reminds me of Strauss's "Metamorphosen" for 13 strings, a dreary piece he wrote late in World War II after Dresden had been firebombed by the Allies. The latter piece represented the fall of Germany through Strauss's music and I think the sextet creates the same mood.
I think Blomstedt is a wonderful conductor and probably much underrated. He has many fine recordings extant, any of which should be considered when you are making a purchase. I don't think this collection is among his best, though.
Very Good Strauss
T. Schmalz | New Jersey | 08/06/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As previously stated, this is by no means on the same level of interpretation as that of Fritz Reiner and his Chicago Symphony Orchestra, but this recording can hold its own. The sound is very good and full of depth. The performances are excellent, especially when compared to other modern recordings of these works. The First Waltz Sequence from Der Rosenkavalier is simply awesome. Jean-Yves Thibaudet plays with plenty of color and excitement in the Burleske. The remaining two pieces on this CD are not as familiar nor memorable, but are played suberbly. Overall, not the best introduction to this music, but most definitely the best recorded. Well worth your money!"