Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|R. Strauss, Ormandy, Philadelphia Orchestra|
Also Sprach Zarathustra
Similarly Requested CDs
The best "Zarathustra"
Dan Carlin | St. Louis, MO United States | 05/22/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The works of the great German composer Richard Strauss can essentially be divided into two periods-the operas and the tone poems. The pieces on this recording represent the pinnacle of the latter, and perhaps of his entire career. Inspired by the great Friedrich Nietzsche book of the same name, which tells the story of the prophet Zarathustra, who famously declares that "God is dead" and tries to inspire the apathetic masses of the world to strive for "the Superman," Strauss' tone poem is made up of 11 sections each of which roughly relates to a passage in Nietzsche's book. The "Introduction"--which was made famous by Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey"--brilliant conveys in a 5-note theme the struggle of man to reach a new apex of being. In the first iteration, the man (or woman) climbs up but stumbles (Ab to G), on the second climbs a little higher (Ab to A) then finally reaches the top and from there the piece soars into a glorious explosion of brass and tympanis, representing the limitless achievements made possible by the advent of the Superman. This brief digression is meant to give the uninitiated listener just a tiny idea of the intellectual richness of the piece, which only enhances the visceral enjoyment of Strauss' beautiful music. Under the baton of Eugene Ormandy, Strauss' music rumbles, dances and sings. The conductor almost seems to have a spiritual understanding of this music, and the dynamics and rhythms of the orchestra are so supple and effortless that it sounds like one vast instrument under the hand of a skilled musician rather than a hundred separate ones. Clearly one of the highlights of the piece is the sumptuous "Dance Song," an exquisite waltz which shimmers with the sheer beauty of the Philadelphia Orchestra's sound, which Ormandy knows exactly how to take full advantage of. Accenting the middle strings, while balancing with a smooth bass and sweetly singing violins, Ormandy creates a sound that literally induces shivers of delight (although listening to the superior LP version is irrefutable proof that LPs produce a richer sound). And "Don Quixote," while clearly a minor composition compared to "Zarathustra", is a nice addition to the disc, and makes for pleasant, if not particularly inspiring or brilliant listening. Despite the budget price, this recording far surpasses those of more prestigious conductors such as Georg Solti and Herbert von Karajan, and I consider it one of my favorite albums (out of a collection of more than 400 albums). The only possible improvement would be to remaster it with the latest K7 technology, which might help the CD achieve the richness of the original LP. Still, I highly recommend it to any listener. And at this price, there's no excuse not to make it part of your collection."