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Strauss: Josephslegende, Love Scene from Feuersnot, Festmarsch / Jarvi

Strauss / Royal Scottish National Orch / Jarvi
Release Date: 06/25/2013 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 5120   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Every Strauss lover needs a recording of this ballet, composed just before (or during) An Alpine Symphony, for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris. The work has suffered from Strauss’ professed lack of interest in the title character, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t work hard to create a successful piece. I mean, who deliberately wants to fail at a Paris premiere by the Ballets Russes? The notion that Strauss just couldn’t handle it because of his own comments about the subject hold no water, at least for me. He was a great composer, and more than that, a consummate professional, and he did his best.

This doesn’t meant that Josephslegende is his best work. The problem it has, and that
Read more Strauss had difficulty solving, is musical. Because it’s a ballet, he was forced to impose on his natural polyphonic fluidity a certain rigidity of rhythm, generally in the form of those typical ballet-type percussion ostinatos for the tambourine and its friends, that almost all ballets feature in one form or another. The result can weigh the music down, so what it needs is just what Järvi and company offer here: a reading of exceptional liveliness, lasting under an hour. There are no dead spots, and the climaxes are really exciting as belted out by the Scottish National players. We can also really hear how the music foreshadows the Strauss to come in Die Frau ohne Schatten, especially the “magic” music in the opera involving the character of the Nurse. The work has been gaining some ground lately; who wouldn’t want what is effectively another big Strauss tone poem? Even with fine versions by Sinopoli (DG) and Fischer (Channel Classics), this stands out as perhaps the most vivid of all.

We also get couplings. The early Festmarsch, Op. 1 is both festive and march-like, which is all that need be said about it. The Love Scene from Feuersnot, however, is another story, a gem of an extract from another unjustly neglected mature score. It really ought to be called a “sex scene” rather than a “love scene” for reasons that become completely obvious once you hear it. This literal climax also includes references to The Ride of the Valkyries in the brass which only serve to make Strauss’ intent even more graphic, as well as funny (in case you didn’t know, the opera is a comedy). He must have had a huge laugh over this bit, and you will too.

Excellent sonics in all formats make this a treat for Straussians and the curious, both.

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

Josephslegende, Op. 63 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912-1914; Germany 
Venue:  Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow 
Length: 2 Minutes 17 Secs. 
Feuersnot, Op. 50, TrV 203: Love Scene by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Period: Post-Romantic 
Written: 1900-1901 
Venue:  Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow 
Length: 5 Minutes 48 Secs. 
Festmarsch in E flat major, Op. 1 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Neeme Järvi
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1876; Germany 
Venue:  Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow 
Length: 6 Minutes 19 Secs. 

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