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Richard Strauss: Don Juan; Tod Und Verklarung; Till Eulenspiegel Lustige Streiche; Vier Letzte Lieder

Strauss / Schwarzkopf / Furtwangler
Release Date: 05/13/2014 
Label:  Praga   Catalog #: 350100   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf
Conductor:  Wilhelm FurtwänglerOtto Ackermann
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Mixed 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

R. STRAUSS Don Juan 1. Tod und Verklärung 1. Till Eulenspiegel 1. Four Last Songs 2 1 Wilhelm Furtwängler, 2 Otto Ackermann, cond; 2 Elisabeth Schwarzkopf (s); 1 Vienna PO; Read more class="SUPER12"> 2 Philharmonia O PRAGA 350 100 mono (78:43 Text and Translation)

Furtwängler collectors probably already have the tone poems in good transfers. Interestingly, the best transfer is on Pristine, and it features the same repertoire coupling, but not the same performance of the Four Last Songs . That disc features the world premiere performance of the songs, with Flagstad and Furtwängler, in a recording of dicey quality, but one worth having for its historic importance.

Praga’s transfers are a bit more harsh than Pristine’s, but they are not bad. The three tone poems are EMI studio recordings from the 1950s, and should present no problems to anyone except those who must have modern stereo or digital sound quality. The issue that will determine the desirability of this disc for you is the performance of the songs, Schwarzkopf’s first EMI recording of them.

While it is true that Schwarzkopf was in fresher voice for this version than her later recording with George Szell, the difference is not significant, and there is a maturity and level of insight in that later recording that makes it, for me at least, the classic recorded performance of the Four Last Songs . Szell, not known for his tenderness, finds a degree of that quality in that recording that is quite magical.

Truly serious collectors would be advised to get the Pristine disc with these same tone poems and that world premiere performance of the songs, and then supplement it with the Schwarzkopf/Szell version of the songs. But this Praga disc should not be dismissed. It has value to any collector who treasures this earlier Schwarzkopf version (certainly well conducted by Ackermann), and who would find this combination of performances attractive in very good transfers.

FANFARE: Henry Fogel
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Works on This Recording

Don Juan, Op. 20 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
Venue:  Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 18 Minutes 38 Secs. 
Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
Venue:  Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 24 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Wilhelm Furtwängler
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/04/1954 
Venue:  Musikvereinsaal, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 16 Minutes 11 Secs. 
Four Last Songs, AV 150 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Elisabeth Schwarzkopf ()
Conductor:  Otto Ackermann
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1948; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/25/1953 
Venue:  Waldorf Town Hall, London 
Length: 19 Minutes 22 Secs. 

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