Two of Richard Strauss' orchestral tone poems are paired on this third volume in Hänssler Classics' ongoing series, one justifiably famous and the other comparatively obscure. Also sprach Zarathustra needs no introduction, not only because its opening fanfare was used to great effect in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, but also because its spectacular orchestral writing has made it one of the most popular works in the repertoire. Aus Italien has not been so fortunate, being an early tone poem that initially received a mixed reaction from the public, though the composer rated it higher than his contemporaries did. For most audiences today, it is notable for the strong influence of Wagner and Tchaikovsky, and the use of the popular tune "Funniculi, funnicula" in the finale, but little else. Under François-Xavier Roth's direction, the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden und Freiburg give both works enthusiastic and vibrant performances, so if any CD is likely to do justice to Aus Italien, it would be this one. On the negative side, it is overwhelmed by the superior artistry of Zarathustra, and it might have fared better matched with tone poems of the same period, Macbeth and Don Juan.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30|
|Aus Italien, Op. 16|