Two of Richard Strauss' most lavishly scored tone poems receive exciting performances from Markus Stenz and the Gürzenich Orchester-Köln on this 2013 Hyperion disc, and the exceptional reproduction makes Don Quixote and Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche especially rich and vivid. The orchestra has a strong track record in playing late Romantic music, having already made extraordinary recordings of the symphonies of Mahler and Tchaikovsky, so this excursion into Strauss' music seems like a natural extension of its repertoire. Under Stenz's direction, the musicians play with real intensity and vivid tone colors, and the energy is consistently high in both performances, equal to the best studio work they have produced. Add to this the luscious sound of Hyperion's recording, which gives the orchestra a wonderful aural space to play with full sonorities and a wide dynamic range to take advantage of Strauss' orchestral subtleties. The featured soloists are cellist Alban Gerhardt and violist Lawrence Power, who represent Don Quixote and Sancho Panza respectively, and the microphone placement puts them front and center in the expansive sound field, so they have a nearly palpable presence. While Don Quixote is the main showpiece, Till Eulenspiegel is also played with bravado and brilliance, though coming after 40 minutes of Strauss' most picturesque music may put it at a disadvantage, so listening to it with fresh ears is recommended.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Don Quixote, Op. 35|