Notes and Editorial Reviews
It goes without saying that the Decca “complete” Krauss recordings box of Strauss tone poems is not complete. Missing are these late 1940s versions of Till Eulenspiegel, with the La Scala Orchestra, and Death and Transfiguration with the London Philharmonic. It’s interesting to hear the Italian orchestra, with (incidentally) my brother-in-law’s grandfather leading the second violins, completely at one with Krauss’ light, nimble take on the music. But that said, Krauss recorded the work with the Vienna Philharmonic in the mid-1950s, and he also remade this dismal-sounding 1929 reading of the Suite from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. So neither of them are essential, respectable though they may be.
The real treat here is Death and
Transfiguration, which Krauss did not remake in Vienna. Now the London Philharmonic in the 1940s was no one’s idea of a great ensemble, and it doesn’t sound like one here. The brass are a bit “blatty” and the orchestra’s bottom end, timpani and basses, lack focus. But the interpretation is a hoot. Krauss leads a totally unashamed, which is not to say vulgar, interpretation that really takes the music at face value. Listen to how he milks the “transfiguration” theme at the climax of the central development section. It may not be subtle, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun, and you get the sense that Strauss would have approved; it shows just what was lacking in his own, arguably too nonchalant performances.
The mono remasterings by Dutton are fine in Till and Death–nothing really can be done with Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, but it hardly matters. This is a true collector’s item.
-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24 by Richard Strauss
Written: 1888-1889; Germany
Venue: Kingsway Hall, London
Length: 24 Minutes 10 Secs.
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