Strauss: Don Quixote, Etc / Jan Vogler

Release Date: 11/11/2008
Label: Sony
Catalog Number: 88697404182
Composer: Richard Strauss
Conductor: Fabio Luisi
Orchestra/Ensemble: Dresden Staatskapelle
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

In Stock
Notes and Editorial Reviews

R. STRAUSS Don Quixote. 1 Romance. 1 Cello Sonata in F 1,2 Fabio Luisi, cond; Jan Vogler (vc); 1 Louis Lortie (pn); 2 Staatskapelle Dresden SONY (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 73:45)

This Sony SACD is very significant in that it is a newly recorded hybrid multichannel SACD from the company that initially presented the technology to audiophiles and CD consumers and then essentially abandoned it when they failed to release any new SACDs. Whether or not it signifies a new commitment to SACDs remains to be seen. On a more musical note, it is always rewarding to hear the music of Richard Strauss played by the Staatskapelle Dresden, but in the same context, some may ask who Fabio Luisi is. Well, he is the music director of the Staatskapelle Dresden, and perhaps a rising star among today’s young conductors. How he fits into the orchestra’s longstanding tradition and expertise in Strauss’s music also remains to be seen.

Luisi plays Don Quixote like a richly orchestrated piece of chamber music. Given the classical influences on Strauss’s set of “Fantastic Variations,” this is certainly appropriate. Luisi’s reading has much of the textural clarity of Reiner, but he adds a light, lyrical flow (similar to Bernard Haitink’s Philips recording, also available now on Eloquence) that is quite ravishing in the “Dialogue of the Knight and Squire” and the “Death of Don Quixote.” Luisi does capture the grand sweep of the “Ride through the Air,” but some will probably find his interpretation to be too underplayed. The emphasis is on Classical transparency rather than Romantic excess. The Staatskapelle Dresden sounds remarkable, and the soloists take the same slightly understated approach as Luisi does. They seamlessly blend with the orchestra in concertante fashion. The Romance for cello and orchestra sounds gorgeous, and is played in the same subdued manner, but is recorded at a higher level. The Sonata for Cello and Piano is lovely.

This is probably the best sounding Don Quixote out there. Fine inner detail (critically important for Strauss’s delicate orchestration) and focal instrumental imaging are outstanding, but not at the cost of sacrificing natural ambient information (hall sound). This is a fine example of how to give the solo instrumentalists their due without distorting orchestral balances as a whole. Critics of the sound may complain that the laid-back effect is an artifact of SACD technology. In this case, I prefer to think that it is a conscious choice of the engineer. So, this is a beautifully recorded but fairly low key Don Quixote . I am not ready to call Luisi a great Strauss conductor yet (the final result is greatly aided by the orchestra and the sound), but this is certainly a good start.

FANFARE: Arthur Lintgen
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Works on This Recording
1. Don Quixote, Op. 35 by Richard Strauss
Performer: Jan Vogler (Cello)
Conductor: Fabio Luisi
Orchestra/Ensemble: Dresden Staatskapelle
Period: Romantic
Written: 1896-1897 ; Germany
2. Sonata for Cello and Piano in F major, Op. 6 by Richard Strauss
Performer: Jan Vogler (Cello), Louis Lortie (Piano)
Period: Romantic
Written: 1880-1883 ; Germany
3. Romance for Cello and Orchestra in F major, AV 75 by Richard Strauss
Performer: Jan Vogler (Cello)
Conductor: Fabio Luisi
Orchestra/Ensemble: Dresden Staatskapelle
Period: Romantic
Written: 1883 ; Germany
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