It took many hours of rehearsal for the Weimar Orchestra to get its lips and fingers around Richard Strauss’s tone poem "Don Juan" in the Autumn of 1889, even with the benefit of the composer himself in charge. Not much about this music was conventional. Certainly not its opening page. The piece launches, off the beat, with an elusive upward flourish metamorphosing into a string of motifs that spans more than three octaves. It is the libertine Don Juan leaping out in front of us, and the 25-year-old Strauss introducing himself to the world with the piece that would make his name.
It showcases three ofRead more the composer’s most vividly pictorial works in performances shot through with the same sense of discovery and flexibility, and of conductor and orchestra thoroughly enjoying themselves. Tuck's playing is beautifully integrated and superbly eloquent. But it’s largely Petrenko’s conviction that makes the performance so special, with no bar allowed simply to play itself, the music’s descriptiveness vividly but never doggedly conveyed.
The lunatic, the lover, and the joker are of imagination all infinite in these supremely vivid interpretations. Petrenko takes his time over the first unravelling of the melancholy knight’s wits. A shame the Oslo Philharmonic viola isn’t credited: this is the most golden tone I’ve heard for Sancho’s garrulousness. For this trio, there’s no better recommendation right now.