Karl Böhm

Hans Pfitzner: Sinfonie Op. 46; Richard Strauss: Don Juan, Op. 20; Till Eulenspiegles lustigue Streiche; Salomes Tanz

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Composer Hans Pfitzner spent much of his career trying to gain his own moment in the limelight away from his much more famous contemporary Richard Strauss. As such, it seems almost a cruel joke to put the two composers' works on one album and again invite a direct comparison between them. Pfitzner's Symphony in C, while certainly an enjoyable work, simply lacks the momentum, tonal palate, and intrigue of his counterpart's. Notwithstanding, the greatest appeal of this recording is its significant historical importance. It was not only recorded during Strauss' lifetime, but conducted by a closer personal and professional friend -- Karl Böhm -- who led an orchestra (the Dresden Staatskapelle) that Strauss himself had a hand in founding. The CD also features the last recording made in the original Dresden Frauenkirche before it was demolished and finally rebuilt in 2005. The well-written and informative liner notes only add to the historical enjoyment of this album. As for the sound itself, the remastering is quite good; there's virtually no hiss and the tone of the orchestra has not been dulled. The performances are not technically flawless, but as Strauss is fabled to have told American orchestras, he never intended every note to be played. The spirit of Strauss' composition and his musical intent are quite clearly presented, and the connection between conductor and composer is always evident.

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