The energetic sweep and larger-than-life character of Richard Strauss' greatest tone poems have kept them in the concert repertoire for more than a century, and their dazzling orchestral effects have also contributed to their wide appeal with audiences. These features are abundantly evident in Riccardo Chailly's 2019 Decca album of Also sprach Zarathustra, Tod und Verklärung, Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche, and the "Tanz der Sieben Schleier" from the opera, Salome, all performed with apparent zeal and virtuosity by the Lucerne Festival Orchestra. Yet listeners may be even more impressed with the audio mix, which brings out small gestures and subtle touches that are often lost in the welter of sound. This live recording from 2017 is a combination of two concert performances, drawing on the best recordings. The closeness of the microphone placement and the seamlessness of the editing give the listener the illusion of being in the middle of the orchestra, with myriad solo parts emerging and receding, almost with a multichannel feeling. This is most noticeable in Also sprach Zarathustra, which is a tour de force of orchestral writing and perhaps the most complicated of all of Strauss' tone poems. It's easy to get caught up in the intricate weave of melodic lines while following the C-G-C "dawn" motive of the opening, which goes through many transformations, each fully audible in this superb recording. Newcomers to Strauss cannot go wrong with this disc.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Also sprach Zarathustra, Op. 30|
|Tod und Verklärung, Op. 24|