An artifact of the best kind
Bruce Hodges | New York, NY | 10/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These performances have been around for awhile, but never sounding as sumptuous as they do here. The glorious "Alpine Symphony" was recorded in 1941 in Munich, and the "Don Juan" is from an astonishing 1929. (A performance of waltzes from "Rosenkavalier" is also included.) This disc shows that Strauss was not only a great composer but a superb conductor; his "Alpine Symphony" is as beautifully phrased as any I've ever heard (and there are many fine Strauss interpreters out there), and the Bavarian orchestra sounds lovely. What struck me immediately about this disc is the brass timbre: much firmer, with almost no "wobble" than you typically hear in recordings of this era. There is a presence that one usually hears only in later, more modern efforts. And with the "Don Juan," recorded even earlier, it is quite amazing that this is listenable at all, but Dutton's engineers have managed to squeeze the most possible out of the tape. However, it must be said that some listeners will still be impatient with the sound and require more contemporary recordings (such as those by von Karajan, Haitink or Blomstedt, for example), simply because with better sonics, the colossal orchestration of these pieces is shown to much better advantage. This caveat is no reflection whatsoever on Dutton's magnificent work; the company has done the best job imaginable with the material. For many fans this will be an essential document, thanks to Dutton's amazing engineers who have given it seemingly magical new life."
A milestone musical document!
Hiram Gomez Pardo | Valencia, Venezuela | 10/09/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Strauss (1864-1949) was probably, the greatest composer-conductor of the century, rivaled perhaps by Gustav Mahler.
Strauss composed this work in the dawns of the WW1, 1914. Ten years had elapsed from the Domestic Symphony , fruitful period in which composed Electra, Salome, Das Rosenklavier and Ariadna in Naxos.
This work is to my taste together with Also Sprach Zaratustra and Death and transfiguration my favorite trilogy of him.
If you realize about the whole structure, which consists in just one movement, we can assume he was thinking in a very expansive tone-poem, his particular Pastoral dedicated to the impressive mountains and perpetual snows. He knew to extract the maximum possibilities of the orchestra, remarking the style of the symphonic ponderosity. A whole arsenal of the most unusual instruments: wind machine, thunder machine and cowbells, in addition to the usual percussion instruments, plus a specially organized brass group offstage consisting of twelve horns, two trumpets and two trombones. An ostentatious anachronism if you want, according the perspectives of that time.
The Bavarian State played this work with meticulous bravery, legitimate pride and profound conveyance. Apart the importance historic of this performance (Strauss in his 77), it remains in the surroundings a clear sensation of emotiveness and display of pronouncement respect these war years. You can feel it beneath the score.
There are in my opinion three legendary versions of the Alpine: a renown and admired performance of Zubin Meta with the Angeles Philharmonic from the seventies, a careful and elaborated performance of one of my favorite directors any time: I mean Rudolf Kempe and this one.
An invaluable performance that will endure securely the taste acid of the years, remaining such as a solid oak and also a historic legacy for the new generations who will survive us.
I've found my desert island disc
Adrian | Gold Coast, Australia | 02/12/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This legendary recording of the Alpine Symphony is the one to take to your desert island. It was made in 1941 but it sounds as though it was recorded yesterday. The original surface noise is filtered to near inaudibility - Dutton's restoration is a must-have. There's nothing like hearing Strauss conduct his own works during the wartime. Now that's history!"