In this recording of Strauss' Eine Alpensinfonie and Till Eulenspiegel, great playing and fine sound are nearly undone by rushed conducting. The WDR Sinfonieorchester Köln plays with tremendous character, immense power, and more than the occasional touch of inspiration. Hänssler's super audio sound is deep, detailed, and colorful, particularly in climaxes. But conductor Semyon Bychkov almost lets them all down in a hurry to get through the piece. Rather than savor the score's lush landscape painting, Bychkov hurtles through, eager to get to the top of the Alps and just as eager to get down again. This effect is not so much the fault of the tempos, though Bychkov's tempos are more often than not faster than normal, as it is the fault of his rhythms, which too often seem to be a bit ahead of the beat, forcing the orchestra forward. Till Eulenspiegel is a bit better in terms of tempo, but less successful in terms of portrayal. Here, the piece seems less funny than forceful, and each of its episodes seems less part of a whole than pieces in a suite. With so much first-rate competition to contend with, this disc comes off as an also-ran.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64|