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Strauss: Tone Poems / Karajan, Berlin Philharmonic


Release Date: 01/02/2002 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 459515   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Michel Schwalb¿
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Imported from : European Union   
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Apart from Herbert von Karajan's 1972 Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel, all of these performances reappeared last year on the slightly cheaper Universal-Panorama label (469 208-2), with Strauss' Horn Concerto No. 2 and the Four Last Songs with Gundula Janowitz. Remember that Panorama reissues do not include annotations of any kind, though, and the one in question has Karl Böhm's "Don" and "Till"--both less exciting than Karajan's but immaculately played and well recorded.


Karajan's Strauss performances generally acquired classic status long ago and are representative of his very finest work with the Berliners--and their work is served well by these impressive transfers that faithfully reproduce
Read more the orchestra's matchless virtuosity and luxuriant sonorities. Karajan's last Ein Heldenleben, his only digital recording of the work, has neither the electric brilliance nor expressive rapture of the 1959 reading offered here. And with Michel Schwalbé's violin solos sounding even more affectingly beautiful than on earlier CD transfers (overall, they're noticeably warmer and richer now, particularly high-register passages on the E-string), you'll probably never need another Heldenleben. The 1973 Zarathustra is here too, again magnificently played, but the sound is fractionally less good. For instance, both the "science" fugue and final climax as the midnight bell tolls reveal some congestion that more recent engineering doubtless would have clarified.


The (slight) disappointment here is Karajan's 1973 Tod und Verklärung. It's hard-driven, powerfully urgent, and often rushed. That's why the C major coda hasn't the cathartic breadth that Haitink's Concertgebouw reading (at a somewhat slower tempo) affords. Philips' luminous recording--coupled with Haitink's Heldenleben in which Herman Krebbers plays the solos--is splendid, with the soft tam-tam stroke at the point of transfiguration far better reproduced. Karajan's Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel, both thrilling performances, are actually quite brash-sounding in this latest issue. Two instances stand out particularly: The shrill D clarinet in Till is very hard-toned, especially in the execution scene, while the stabbing trumpets in the coda of Don Juan sound oddly brittle. But these are minor caveats indeed, and in most respects, this set is all you could reasonably wish for in this repertoire.
--Michael Jameson, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1. Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Michel Schwalb¿ (Violin)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895-1896; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1973 
2. Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; Germany 
3. Don Juan, Op. 20 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
4. Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Michel Schwalb¿ (Violin)
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897-1898; Germany 
5. Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Herbert von Karajan
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 

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