Saving the best for last in the Richard Strauss anniversary 2014. The world’s most luxurious soprano, Anna Netrebko, sings Richard Strauss’ sumptuous Four Last Songs, accompanied by the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim. An irresistible, all-star combination.
Blomstedt’s singular view of Also sprach Zarathustra reflects his deep knowledge of and experience with the piece… The San Francisco Symphony plays masterfully, its characteristic warm sound allied with a virtuoso polish that nonetheless conveys a sense of discovery… Blomstedt’s Ein Heldenleben is one of the most beautifully rendered performances on disc.- Victor Carr Jr.
The two works were both recorded live at London's Royal Festival Hall, but over six years apart – Till Eulenspiegel in June 2001, before the hall's renovation, and Ein Heldenleben in late 2007 – and Signum's sound is refreshingly natural; it's a bit uncharitable to say it captures the performances 'warts and all', yet there's an honesty about engineering that employs a natural dynamic range and avoids upholstering the sound. Till Eulenspiegel is a work that delights gleefully in its brilliant surface, making few pretentions to metaphysical profundity. Ein Heldenleben, at three times the length, might similarly avoid excessive philosophising, yet requires a sure hand to prevent it degenerating into overblown pomp.
Editorial Reviews - Amazon.com essential recording
This recording was the hi-fi demo disc of the 1950s. On CD, it still sounds pretty incredible; an achievement as remarkable technically as it is musically. And what playing! Fritz Reiner sadistically enjoyed driving his players to despair. There's a famous story about principal trumpeter Adolph (Bud) Herseth, who played his tricky little fanfare at the beginning of the second half of Zarathustra so perfectly so many times that even Reiner finally gave up. Most critics and Strauss lovers consider Reiner's performance of A Hero's Life to be the best ever committed to disc, and I'd be the last one to disagree. This is one of those recordings where everything just went right.
Herbert von Karajan's post-war debut with Deutsche Grammophon was this classic 1959 recording of , coupled here with a sizzling account of from 1972/1973. Apart from Karajan himself, one of its stars was violinist Michel Schwalbé, who became the orchestral leader of the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1957. According to critic Deryck Cooke, Karajan's performance has a fire and sweeping breadth which results, "surprisingly, not in bombast but in true nobility".
"Any man who can construct a work that hangs together so well is not far from being a genius."Claude Debussy