This is the best recording of Richard Strauss' Alpine Symphony.
It is a stunning piece of music–an auditory journey up an alpine mountain, complete with sunrise and sunset, and even an impressive, powerful mountain storm.
Karajan was a great Straussian, and this collection, produced by John Culshaw in 1959-60, with the VPO (especially the strings) in superb form, shows him at his most charismatic. Also sprach Zarathustra was a famous early Decca stereo demonstration record, and remains as spectacular as ever. The many-faceted portrait of Till is delectably witty, Don Juan is exciting, racy, and full of sensuality, which is voluptuously shared by the dramatic and sinuous 'Salome's dance'. The transfers undoubtedly recreate the sonic excitement of the originals.
Ivan March, Gramophone
These recordings were made by Erato shortly before Barenboim took over as musical director at Chicago and were hailed at the time as the best possible foretaste of the partnership. Until recently they were available on Warner’s mid-price Elatus label but, despite the strong recommendations which they received in that form, such is the economic pressure of the times that they have now been further reduced to the budget-price Apex label.
October 21, 2012 marks Sir Georg Soltis centenary and Decca is celebrating this with several important reissues.
Sir Georg was an exclusive Decca artist for 50 years. In 1947 he signed his first contract with Decca - as a pianist and that same year he made his first record as a conductor (with the Zurich Tonhalle in Beethovens Egmont Overture). His last public concerts took place just a few weeks before his death in 1997 and were with the Zurich Tonhalle.
All of Richard Strauss' stage works inhabit a special world of their own and Arabella is certainly no exception. Set amid the flamboyant aristocracy of 19th-century Vienna, the story centres on Arabella whose family fortunes have come to depend on her managing a wealthy man.
Determined to marry for love rather than riches, she encounters a mysterious and foreign nobleman in the form of Mandryka and after several romps, the opera ends positively on a blissful note… Gerald Fenech
The discography of Strauss’s last opera is not exactly crowded, but the two existing accounts provide formidable competition for any newcomer. First there was Sawallisch, conducting the Philharmonia for EMI in 1957 (unfortunately in mono) and a cast led by Schwarzkopf, Ludwig and Fischer-Dieskau. Then, in 1971, came that other supreme Straussian, Karl Böhm, with Janowitz, Troyanos and (again) Fischer-Dieskau, recorded in Munich for DG. The new Decca set brings together many of today’s leading exponents of Strauss’s roles, dominated, for me, by the unsurpassed Clairon of Brigitte Fassbaender, now alas, never to be heard on stage again following her retirement. Heilmann and Bär make an ardent pair of rival suitors, Hagegård an admirable Count and Halem a sonorous, characterful La Roche. (There is a delightful link with the past history of the opera in the person of Hans Hotter: he sang Olivier in the 1942 premiere, La Roche in the 1957 Sawallisch set, and here, at 84 when recorded in December 1993, a one-line cameo as a servant.) For many, though, the set’s desirability will rest on Te Kanawa’s Countess.
Karajan gives his soprano incandescent support and the playing, needless to say, is superb. This is a 'must' for all Straussians, and surely for many others.' - Alan Blyth, Gramophone