There's an elegant lightness, a coy gracefulness, a sunny cheerfulness to this disc of Strauss' orchestral works that makes it hard to characterize as echt Deutsche. Don Juan, usually a heavy handed lover, is here supple and seductive. Till Eulenspiegel, usually a bad-mannered comic, is here slyly silly and marvelously witty. And Don Quixote, usually a picaresque tale-tall without a point, is here wise, warm, and wonderful. One can only ask why. Perhaps Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, a dependable but usually unimaginative Spanish conductor, was feeling inspired by the subject matter. Perhaps the Dresden Philharmonic, usually only an adequate stand-in for the superlative Dresden Staatskapelle, was feeling excited by the music. Perhaps cellist Claudio Bohórquez, a soulful young Peruvian-Uruguayan cellist born and trained in Germany, lit a fire under Frühbeck de Burgos and the Dresden players -- but while that might be true in Don Quixote, Bohórquez doesn't participate in the purely orchestral Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel. Perhaps it was just a happy coincidence, perhaps it was just a fluke, but whatever the reason, fans of Strauss' can only be grateful, especially since the performances were captured in Berlin Classic's uncharacteristically rich, lush sound.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche (Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks), tone poem for orchestra, Op. 28 (TrV 171)
|Don Quixote, fantastic variations for cello & orchestra, Op. 35 (TrV 184)|