Marek Janowski

Strauss: Alpine Symphony, Op. 54

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Strauss' early symphonic poems Macbeth and Eine Alpensinfonie are long, loud, and banal, and so are these performances by Marek Janowski and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. The relatively rarely recorded Macbeth is dark and brooding, with flashes of color and violence, but it sounds both poorly constructed and poorly performed. Janowski's interpretation makes the listener all too aware of the work's discursiveness, and though the Pittsburgh musicians play well enough, they sound distinctly bored and even restless. Even less appealing is the relatively frequently recorded Eine Alpensinfonie. While the Pittsburgh musicians play well enough in this difficult score, the piece sounds interminable in Janowski's interpretation, which lingers over details and rarely summons the kind of energy and fortitude it takes to effectively scale the 50-minute work. The super audio sound is clean, clear, deep, and vivid, and does help distract the listener's attention from the otherwise lackluster music and performances.

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