Not only is this the best performance, but unlike the Krauss its dynamics aren't compressed, and so the effect is what the conductor wanted, and not what some engineer did.
As a result, this superbly conducted performance carries the listener along the huge structural arcs which Strauss built into this his greatest work, up the highest of Alpine peaks, and higher, into the stratosphere, and finally out into ethereal space, looking back upon our speck in the universe.
This symphonic opera is best listened to without paying attention to the words sung by singers, as simply a symphony for huge orchestra, with accompanying vocal soloists. No greater symphony exists, not even Bruckner's.
This orchestral/vocal symphony is wise, ecstatic, and transcendent, a goodbye to life, from a man whose inner world was not just indescribably beautiful but was remarkably independent from the tumultuous circumstances through which he lived. It cements Richard Strauss's status as the greatest of all composers, irrespective of his humble joke that he was the world's best second-rate opera composer -- a joke which the many foolish and insensitive musical commentators still take seriously.
This work, even more than Capriccio, Elektra, the Four Last Songs, the late second sinfonietta for winds, and his other sublime peaks, establishes Strauss's unsurpassed stature: the most essential of all composers.
We must therefore be grateful to cpo and Ulrich Windfuhr for finally introducing this work to the public in a way that's adequate to its immense challenges. After hearing this set, and being stunned by it, I bought a second copy, so that I'll still have this performance even if the first copy wears out or if this recording is tragically remaindered.