Because Richard Strauss' Eine Alpensinfonie heavily depends on its atmospheric orchestration for its secure place in the repertoire, it seems a terrific candidate for showing off the capabilities of Bernard Haitink and the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as the benefits of state-of-the-art recording technology. From its misty opening to its towering climaxes and brooding conclusion, this monumental tone poem -- scarcely a symphony in any conventional sense -- offers an enormous range of astonishing effects and the instrumental combinations of an ensemble of over 123 musicians, a challenge the composer regarded as equivalent to scaling an actual summit. The work gestated from 1900 to its completion in 1915, and in its literary associations (it was originally based on Nietzsche's Der Antichrist), it seems as profuse and elaborate as the earlier Nietzschean tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra, and just as virtuosic. Haitink and the LSO give the piece a resounding performance that is breathtaking in the DSD multichannel recording, and this SACD's sound is wonderfully clear and spacious, two qualities that are essential for understanding Strauss' complicated yet transparent orchestration. While some critics have chastised Strauss for the work's musical content, which some regarded as banal in the extreme, none have legitimately questioned his skill with the orchestra. This is utterly apparent in this brilliant live recording, and Haitink and the LSO have added another lustrous recording to their illustrious series of SACDs.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64|