Mariss Jansons / Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra

Strauss: Don Juan; Ein Heldenleben

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Due to the great popularity of Richard Strauss' Don Juan and Ein Heldenleben (A Hero's Life), there are many recordings available that can be regarded as exemplary, so this live 2014 recording by Mariss Jansons and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra has considerable competition. Jansons has a strong reputation for Strauss, and his separate live recordings of these tone poems with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra are among those first-rate recordings vying for listeners' attention. They may opt for this album, though, because these BR Klassik recordings boast exceptional playing and fine concert sound, with all the excitement that a live event can evoke. While the audiophile edge goes to the RCO Live recordings, which were issued as hybrid SACDs in 2005 and 2008, this CD is also well-recorded and holds its own in the audio sweepstakes. Considering that Jansons made this recording a few years after the RCO performances, one shouldn't expect any major changes in his thinking. The noticeable differences between the RCO and Bavarian performances are small, mostly pertaining to the shading of expressions and slight touches of rubato, so there are no serious issues of interpretation or performance to quibble about. In the end, the only difference that listeners may care about are the selections, because the RCO Live release of Don Juan pairs it with Ein Alpensinfonie, and Ein Heldenleben is programmed by itself on one SACD.

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