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Strauss / Krauss - Complete Decca Recordings


Release Date: 06/17/2014 
Label:  Decca   Catalog #: 002055302  
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Performer:  Pierre FournierErnst MorawegHermann GallosAnton Dermota,   ... 
Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 5 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Although advertised as “The Complete Decca Recordings,” this set is should be called “The Complete Vienna Philharmonic Decca Recordings,“ since Krauss made an earlier version of Till Eulenspiegel with the orchestra of La Scala, Milan, and his only version of Death and Transfiguration in London. Those performances are available on Dutton, and there’s no good reason that I am aware of why they were not included here. Nevertheless, this is a valuable set, not so much for its embodiment of a performance tradition stemming from the composer, but rather for the very personal touches that Krauss brings to the music that are different from Strauss’ own.

In a nutshell, Krauss was a far more interventionist interpreter than Strauss
Read more was. His range of tempos is wider, and his handling of texture and balance distinctive. For example, he tends to favor the woodwind section in order to create moments of chamber music-like transparency, even in the most densely scored contrapuntal thickets. Episodes such as the party music in Don Juan, the battle in Ein Heldenleben, or the gradual onset of Don Quixote’s insanity are unprecedentedly clear. In the latter work, the variation featuring the false Dulcinea is so evenly balanced that it sounds like a different piece—at once more audacious and also more funny than in any other performance.

Often this textural refinement goes hand in hand with a more deliberate tempo than usual, such as when Krauss slams on the brakes at the tolling of the midnight bell in Also sprach Zarathustra. Compare this to a modern reference recording such as Karajan’s classic Berlin Philharmonic performance. That version is excellent, but just listen to how much more emphatically accented and timbrally differentiated Krauss sounds in comparison!

This approach also plays big dividends in the Sinfonia domestica, which has unusual cogency and character, while some of the unusual tempos in Till Eulenspiegel personalize the music in a most compelling way. There is a price to pay for this, of course, in a certain lack of spontaneity, but it’s a minor point that never becomes a significant issue. In general, and despite the occasionally edgy mono sonics and some scruffy playing from the post-War Vienna Philharmonic, these performances have an authenticity, even in their eccentricities, that truly seems at one with the music, and that makes even not-quite-mature pieces such as Aus Italien sound completely assured.

Krauss’ recording of Salome ought to be better known than it is. In the title role Christel Goltz was a true Kunstdiva, always thoughtful and responsive to the text, if a bit past her prime when this recording was made. She’s wholly inside the part, no question about it, but her tone is less than lovely. That said, it’s still far superior than she was in her stereo remake with Otmar Suitner. You either like her or you don’t. The rest of the cast, including Julius Patzak as Herod and Hans Braun as Jokanaan is pretty terrific, as is Krauss’ conducting. This is the only studio recording we have of Krauss, who was so involved in the later works (he was co-librettist of Capriccio), directing a complete Strauss opera. In short, it’s an important document historically as well as a powerful performance in its own right. Taken as a whole, this is a special set in all respects, and a real collector’s item for Strauss fans.

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

1.
Don Quixote, Op. 35 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Pierre Fournier (Cello), Ernst Moraweg (Viola)
Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1896-1897; Germany 
2.
Don Juan, Op. 20 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888-1889; Germany 
3.
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, Op. 28 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894-1895; Germany 
4.
Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897-1898; Germany 
5.
Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1895-1896; Germany 
6.
Symphonia domestica, Op. 53 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1902-1903; Germany 
7.
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, Op. 60 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1912; Germany 
8.
Aus Italien, Op. 16 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; Germany 
9.
Salome, Op. 54 by Richard Strauss
Performer:  Hermann Gallos (Tenor), Anton Dermota (Tenor), Hans Braun (Baritone),
Julius Patzak (Tenor), Margherita Kenney (Soprano), Else Schürhoff (Mezzo Soprano),
Hugo Meyer-Welfing (Tenor), Rudolf Christ (Tenor), Kurt Preger (Tenor),
Herbert Alzen (Bass), Murray Dickie (Tenor), Ludwig Weber (Bass),
Franz Bierbach (Baritone), Harald Pröglhöf (Tenor), Walter Berry (Bass),
Ljubomir Pantscheff (Baritone), Christel Goltz (Soprano)
Conductor:  Clemens Krauss
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1903-1905; Germany 
Date of Recording: 03/1954 
Venue:  Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna 
Language: German 

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