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Don Juan, Aus Italien SACD

2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: B.de Billy
  • Composer: R.STRAUSS
  • Audio CD (9 Sept. 2008)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: SACD
  • Label: Oehms
  • ASIN: B001CM3KHA
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,362,092 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Wiener RSO/Billy,B.D.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Moore TOP 100 REVIEWER on 23 Feb. 2014
Format: Audio CD
I haven't heard anything conducted by Bertrand de Billy that I didn't like but I wasn't really prepared for his excellence in this Strauss programme. A great deal of my very positive reaction is down to the beauty of the playing of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the superb, deep, mellow recorded sound from the Oehms team. The Strauss soundworld fits some orchestras ideally and here it's the golden aureola around the strings and horns in combination with the swagger and swoon de Billy brings to "Don Juan" which alert you to the presence of a natural Straussian team. The smooth legato of those horns and the way the dynamics swell and subside make this as recommendable an account as any of Strauss's first real, large masterpiece (as he wrote some exquisite Lieder before 1889) - though goodness knows there are enough great recordings to choose from. Some might want a little thrust in the presto passages, but de Billy eschews he kind of clipped, manic attack Szell brings to the piece without ever sounding less than grand and propulsive - and he's no slower overall.

Otherwise the main attraction here is the less-oft recorded juvenile essay "Aus Italien" from two years earlier, while Strauss was still finding his own, true voice. I have just favourably reviewed versions on Naxos and Chandos and both are excellent, but the depth and beauty of sound here, again, both in terms of engineering and orchestral glow, give de Billy an advantage and Strauss's music an extra dimension, especially in the many tender themes, embryonic in that they are under-developed but proleptic of the style of the mature Strauss.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. S. CROWE TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Feb. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Even as ardent a Strauss admirer as I am cannot be deaf to those works which are not of the very highest invention. This CD recorded in 2007 and available in SACD gives us an opportunity to hear one of Strauss’s earliest compositions where shall we say his musical character was still in formation coupled with arguably his first great masterpiece.

The RSO Wien (formerly Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra) is a first class orchestra with the true, rich Viennese character of glowing strings, rich brass and plangent woodwinds and under Maestro de Billy has risen to great heights. Their concerts held regularly in the Konzerthaus are regularly sold out, as much an appreciation of de Billy’s artistry in the city he has made his musical home and where he can do little wrong.

The reputation is fully justified on the evidence of this disc, which is beautifully played and idiomatically conducted-and the recording is superb too.

There are SO many great recordings of Don Juan, a perennial favourite, that comparisons are pointless. All I will say is that it is very fine indeed, but if that is the main focus of interest then alternatives abound that are the equal and superior to this version.

Where this recording comes into its own is that in the absence of the Muti/BPO recording of “Aus Italien” from the catalogue these many years, this is by far and away the best version available of this work, and even the Muti suffered from rather dry boxy sound in the worst manner of Philips engineering.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A lovely bloom on the sound enhances these youthful tone poems 23 Feb. 2014
By Ralph Moore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I haven't heard anything conducted by Bertrand de Billy that I didn't like but I wasn't really prepared for his excellence in this Strauss programme. A great deal of my very positive reaction is down to the beauty of the playing of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the superb, deep, mellow recorded sound from the Oehms team. The Strauss soundworld fits some orchestras ideally and here it's the golden aureola around the strings and horns in combination with the swagger and swoon de Billy brings to "Don Juan" which alert you to the presence of a natural Straussian team. The smooth legato of those horns and the way the dynamics swell and subside make this as recommendable an account as any of Strauss's first real, large masterpiece (as he wrote some exquisite Lieder before 1889) - though goodness knows there are enough great recordings to choose from. Some might want a little thrust in the presto passages, but de Billy eschews he kind of clipped, manic attack Szell brings to the piece without ever sounding less than grand and propulsive - and he's no slower overall.

Otherwise the main attraction here is the less-oft recorded juvenile essay "Aus Italien" from two years earlier, while Strauss was still finding his own, true voice. I have just favourably reviewed versions on Naxos and Chandos and both are excellent, but the depth and beauty of sound here, again, both in terms of engineering and orchestral glow, give de Billy an advantage and Strauss's music an extra dimension, especially in the many tender themes, embryonic in that they are under-developed but proleptic of the style of the mature Strauss. Where de Billy particularly differs from other recordings is in his comparatively rapid beat for the Sorrento beach movement; he shaves a good two movements off it, making it sound more like a folksy lullaby or a gentle waltz than an impressionistic meditation; I think it works. The lovely playing provides the repose and the tempo prevents it dragging; the wind and waves ripple a little faster here. The last movement is just a little restrained for my taste, in keeping with de Billy's approach in general, but yet again the delicacy and musicality of the orchestral playing buoys it up and the second half, when the brass strike up, culminating in the Big Tune we are all so familiar with and which Strauss mistook for a real, traditional Neapolitan folk-song, has plenty of drive and momentum.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A fine pairing with the top recommendation for Aus Italien. 20 Feb. 2014
By D. S. CROWE - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Even as ardent a Strauss admirer as I am cannot be deaf to those works which are not of the very highest invention. This CD recorded in 2007 and available in SACD gives us an opportunity to hear one of Strauss’s earliest compositions where shall we say his musical character was still in formation coupled with arguably his first great masterpiece.

The RSO Wien (formerly Austrian Radio Symphony Orchestra) is a first class orchestra with the true, rich Viennese character of glowing strings, rich brass and plangent woodwinds and under Maestro de Billy has risen to great heights. Their concerts held regularly in the Konzerthaus are regularly sold out, as much an appreciation of de Billy’s artistry in the city he has made his musical home and where he can do little wrong.

The reputation is fully justified on the evidence of this disc, which is beautifully played and idiomatically conducted-and the recording is superb too.

There are SO many great recordings of Don Juan, a perennial favourite, that comparisons are pointless. All I will say is that it is very fine indeed, but if that is the main focus of interest then alternatives abound that are the equal and superior to this version.

Where this recording comes into its own is that in the absence of the Muti/BPO recording of “Aus Italien” from the catalogue these many years, this is by far and away the best version available of this work, and even the Muti suffered from rather dry boxy sound in the worst manner of Philips engineering.
This early work is full of youthful joy and ebullience as the young Strauss was captivated by the light, citrus scents and catchy melodies of Italy in direct contrast to Elgar’s depiction of the great and turbulent history of Ancient Rome captured so well in his most Straussian piece, “In the South (Alassio)”.
It’s not a great work, but each of its four movements while being obviously derivative also contain portents of great things to come not so far in the future.

de Billy “plays it straight “ from an opening as dark and noble as the Alpensinfonie, imbuing the work with commitment and passion as well as a sense of fun particularly in the last much derided movement. The sheer glory of the orchestral playing is worth the exercise alone-I defy any Strauss lover not to have a lump in the throat when the opening theme unfolds!

The Kempe with the fabulous Dresden Orchestra is not available separately, and cannot match the sonic splendour of this version-great though it is-and I have never been much a fan of the Jarvi RSNO recording with its artificially reverberant sound from the Caird Hall in Dundee, and Jarvi’s straightforward approach is reliable rather than inspired, though it is the next best choice.
The Lusi, coupled with Macbeth is very dull by comparison despite the presence of the Dresden Staatskapelle, and the Zinman is similar and nowhere near as well recorded and played

de Billy takes a slightly broader weightier approach which I prefer-listening again I am struck by the redolence of Dvorak throughout the work.

The disc under review is a bit short measure, but then so is the Jarvi and the Chandos cover artwork is enough to put anyone off, so if this charming early work of Strauss attracts this is the best choice, and has a fine Don Juan to remind one of greatness to come. Highly recommended. Stewart Crowe.
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