Richard Strauss

Strauss conducts Der Rosenkavalier

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Hardcore Richard Strauss aficionados will have to hear this Dutton disc. Not only does it include the great German composer conducting some of his favorite pieces by other composers -- Wagner's Tristan Prelude and Mozart's Die Zauberflöte Overture among them -- but it also contains his score from the 1926 film of Der Rosenkavalier. The former, recorded in 1928, are quite interesting. Strauss, a skilled and experienced conductor, was a direct and unfussy interpreter of other composers' music, and his Tristan is clear and straightforward while his Zauberflöte is clean and quick. The Rosenkavalier Suite, however, is fascinating. Though the opera was reduced in length for the movie, the orchestration itself is more or less entirely intact, and Strauss' understanding direction will enhance and enlarge listener's appreciation of the music. Try the radiant tone and hushed ecstasy of his Trio and Finale from Act III: even without three sopranos, the performance is deeply moving. Though later recorded performances may be more opulent, none can surpass Strauss' own for insight and unswerving self-control. The playing here is quite fine, particularly the Berlin Philharmonic's in the Tristan Prelude and the Flying Dutchman Overture. The recordings, though dating from the mid-'20s, have been remastered with admirable clarity by Michael Dutton.

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