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Strauss: Ein Heldenleben, Metamorphosen / Bychkov, WDR Cologne


Release Date: 04/29/2003 
Label:  Avie   Catalog #: 17   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Semyon Bychkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Semyon Bychkov, who seemed to disappear after a handful of high-profile and highly variable Philips releases in the 1990s...makes a surprising reappearance with this powerful pair of Strauss performances. Bychkov's really got the measure of Strauss' sprawling Ein Heldenleben, which he opens with tremendous energy and sweep. However, even more impressive is the following Hero's Adversaries, which rarely has been so vividly portrayed as here, with the Cologne woodwinds' snarling and bleating strongly suggesting the backbiting critics who so tormented Strauss. Kyoko Shikata's solo playing and Bychkov's deft phrasing make for a Hero's Companion that for once doesn't bore, but actually is quite enjoyable.


The Hero Deeds in
Read more Battle provides the main opportunity for the Cologne players to show their mettle, and they bring down the house with full-bore playing from all sections. Throw in the prominent percussion, and you've got the makings of a real slug-fest. Usually after the battle Strauss' long sunset comes as a big letdown and makes the work's final pages seem interminable. But Bychkov's flowing pace sustains the momentum to the close, making this one of the few modern Ein Heldenleben's (Pesek's is another) worthy to set beside Fritz Reiner's classic version.


Bychkov's Metamorphosen benefits from this same clarity of focus and totality of conception. His reading flows organically from one episode to the next, all the while maintaining dramatic tension and emotional impact in the music's many mini-climaxes. The dynamic live recording presents a convincing impression of the orchestra in its hall, lacking only the full presence and bright clarity of the best studio versions. All told, this is one fine Strauss disc.
--Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Ein Heldenleben, Op. 40 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Semyon Bychkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897-1898; Germany 
Date of Recording: 01/2001 
Venue:  Philharmonic Hall, Cologne, Germany 
Length: 46 Minutes 51 Secs. 
2.
Metamorphosen for 23 solo Strings, AV 142 by Richard Strauss
Conductor:  Semyon Bychkov
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1945; Germany 
Date of Recording: 02/2001 
Venue:  Stolberger Strasse Studio, Cologne 
Length: 27 Minutes 53 Secs. 

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