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Richard Strauss: Music For Wind Instruments

Strauss / Octophoros / Dombrecht
Release Date: 01/10/2011 
Label:  Passacaille   Catalog #: 981   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Paul Dombrecht
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Octophoros
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



R. STRAUSS Suite for 13 Winds. Serenade for 13 Winds. Sonatina No. 2 (Symphony) for 16 Winds Paul Dombrecht, cond; Octophoros PASSACAILLE 94002 (74:02)


Richard Strauss wrote his Serenade and Suite, both for 13 wind instruments, in 1881 and 1884, respectively, at the beginning of his career. He then composed the two sonatinas for 16 wind instruments at the end of his career, in the 1940s. The Sonatina No. 2 is also referred to as a symphony because of its size, sophistication, and complexity of construction. Read more Strauss intended his wind symphony to be an homage “to the spirit of the divine Mozart at the end of a life full of gratitude and recognition.” In between, over his entire career, Strauss continued to demonstrate his affinity for wind instruments in his large-scale orchestral works and various incidental pieces for brass and winds. His works for wind ensemble have remained relatively obscure in comparison to his tone poems and operas. The program notes state that this recording (made in 1994) is designed by Octophoros (founded by conductor Paul Dombrecht in 1984) to address this situation by “bringing a less well-known facet of Strauss’s work to the attention of a wider public.” In presenting three of Strauss’s four major compositions for wind ensemble with impeccable performances, this CD is a total success.


These pieces should all be of interest to Straussophiles and easily recognizable as the work of Strauss because of their long-lined melodies and characteristic orchestration. The only possible drawback for individual listeners is whether or not they are drawn to the highly individual sonority of a wind ensemble. Octophoros emphasizes lyrical, legato flow over classical precision and clarity. That is totally appropriate because Strauss is first and foremost a Romantic composer, despite his allegiance to the “divine” Mozart. The sound, with its slightly laid-back high frequencies, complements this interpretive approach. An interesting comparison can be made between these versions and Mercury’s recording of the Serenade with the Eastman Wind Ensemble conducted by Frederick Fennell in a desirable coupling with Mozart’s monumental and influential Serenade No. 10, “Gran Partita.” The Mercury recording’s brighter highs and stunning clarity emphasize the classical aspects of the score. Both approaches are totally valid, but there is no denying Mercury’s almost palpable detail in those wind chords.


For this exact collection, Heinz Holliger and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe Winds (Philips) are still hard to beat on an ArkivMusic reissue, but this recording easily makes it into their class. For Strauss’s complete music for wind ensemble, including the Sonatina No. 1 plus the Oboe Concerto with Holliger as soloist, go with the Netherlands Wind Ensemble on a two-CD album now available on Newton Classics.


FANFARE: Arthur Lintgen
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Works on This Recording

1. Suite for 13 Winds in B flat major, Op. 4 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Paul Dombrecht
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Octophoros
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1884; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1994 
Venue:  Radiobuilding Eugène Flageyplein Studio 
Length: 24 Minutes 43 Secs. 
2. Serenade for Winds in E flat major, Op. 7 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Paul Dombrecht
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Octophoros
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1994 
Venue:  Radiobuilding Eugène Flageyplein Studio 
Length: 9 Minutes 24 Secs. 
3. Sonatina no 2 in E flat major, AV 143 "Fröhliche Werkstatt" by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Paul Dombrecht
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Octophoros
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944-1945; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1994 
Venue:  Radiobuilding Eugène Flageyplein Studio 
Length: 38 Minutes 32 Secs. 

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