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Strauss: Ein Heldenleben; J.c. Bach: Sinfonia In B Flat Major / Willem Mengelberg, Et Al

Release Date: 10/14/2008 
Label:  Opus Kura   Catalog #: 2076   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Johann Christian BachRichard StraussMaurice Ravel
Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York PhilharmonicRoyal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 6 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

You would think that the reason to get this disc would be for the famous 1928 New York recording of Ein Heldenleben, available from various sources, but despite Opus Kura’s well-deserved reputation for excellent quality transfers, this one does not rank with the label’s best. For me, anyway, the original sources used for this release have too much surface noise–so much so that at lower volume levels the music disappears entirely. The opening of the “The Hero’s Companion” (sound clip) offers a telling case in point. Normally, as they say in the business, “the ear adjusts,” but mine didn’t. Listening is just too effortful. The standard RCA transfer remains superior.

The rest of the disc, on the other hand, offers a couple of
Read more treasures. Mengelberg may bring little of interest to this 1930 version of Ravel’s Boléro, which was quite new at the time, but the performance is interesting and worth hearing for the playing of the soloists of the Concertgebouw Orchestra. Even more appealing is this 1929 recording of J.C. Bach’s Sinfonia Op. 18 No. 2. Not only is the piece a true rarity, but the sonics are astoundingly fine for 1929. Mengelberg leads the New York Philharmonic in a performance as crisp and charming as is the music itself. I know it’s only ten minutes long, but for me it justifies purchase of the disc (if you can find it at the right price, of course).

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Grand Overtures (6), Op. 18: no 2 in B flat major by Johann Christian Bach
Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Classical 
Written: circa 1781 
Length: 10 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Philharmonic
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897-1898; Germany 
Length: 40 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Boléro by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Willem Mengelberg
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1928; France 
Length: 14 Minutes 17 Secs. 

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