These Strauss recordings are amazing. Granted, Don Juan isn’t as sprightly as it could be (though still powerful), but this Death and Transfiguration is one of the truly great ones, uncommonly swift and gripping, at a pace very similar to Strauss’s own. Salome’s Dance is as luscious and sultry as it has ever been done, and it builds to an absolutely terrifying, vicious climax (sound clip). Till Eulenspiegel is rich in humor, with a surprisingly quick and dramatic judgment scene (second sound clip). Metamophosen was a piece made for Klemperer’s particular brand of unsentimental, unflinching seriousness, and this version is devastating. Some of these performances (D & T and Metamorphosen) were previously issued in EMI’s Great RecordingsRead more of the Century series coupled to Mahler’s Ninth, but they deserve to be heard together. Klemperer was very selective in his Strauss, but he was at his very best in those works that he did champion.
As for the Wagner, some of these items are true rarities. My colleague Bob Levine has already written at length about this dark and gloomy Walküre Act I (Dernesch, Cochran, and Sotin), very well sung with a cast that seems at one with the approach. As he says, you probably wouldn’t want to hear the whole opera done this way, with the tempos measured but not dragging, but it’s good to have this performance back. Wotan’s Farewell, with Norman Bailey bravely coping with Klemperer’s very slow speed (sound clip), is also an acquired taste, but well worth a listen. Christa Ludwig’s versions of the Wesendonck-Lieder and the Liebestod are rightly regarded as classics, while the orchestral excerpts from the various operas, available separately and already reviewed here (multiple times) belong with Szell’s as the best collection of “bleeding chunkss” to emerge from the Golden Age of early stereo. Pretty wonderful, then, with sonics that have held up very well.
Wesendonck Liederby Richard Wagner Performer:
Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: Romantic Written: 1857-1858; Germany Date of Recording: 03/1963 Venue: Kingsway Hall, London, England Length: 21 Minutes 55 Secs. Language: German
Rienzi: Overtureby Richard Wagner Conductor:
Period: Romantic Written: 1840-1843; Germany
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
Otto Klemperer und Richard Strauss - perfekt!May 7, 2013By William Wieting (York Harbor, ME)See All My Reviews"Highly recommended, in particular for the Richard Strauss tone poems. Klemperer obviously has the orchestra not only well-drilled, but inspired. They play with enthusiastic commitment - elan - as well as precision. Enormous dynamic range makes the Strauss compelling, especially in Tod und Verklaerung; this is easily the best recording I have ever heard of that profound, dramatic story. For its age, the sound is simply amazing. Bravo!"Report Abuse
No mention of METAMORPHISEN in contents listApril 5, 2013By alex segal (san rafael, CA)See All My Reviews"It's on the cover of the box...a great interpretation uniquely suited to Klemperer.. most convincing of a work most others can't sustain, imo.."Report Abuse