I have no disagreement with the lead review, except that after assessing this new recording of Ein Heldenleben, I can't find any reason to give it less than five stars. Perhaps this recording was primarily engineered for surround sound, because through two channels the orchestra seems a bit distant; we get a blended overall sonority at the expense of gripping details. However, there's plenty of visceral impact in peak climaxes. Having heard the Dresdeners play Richard Strauss in concert, I see why the engineers were tempted -- the orchestra is so harmoniously one whole that it doesn't come toward you as a confederation of soloists. (If only recorded sound could capture what the discerning ear hears in the concert hall; I don't think any ensemble loses as much of its individuality on disc as this one.)
Luisi conducts a very musical, alert reading without bombast or vulgarity. One feels the orchestra's high quality radiating from every bar, and only the final touch of drama and virtuosity such as one hears form Karajan and Simon Rattle is missing, but so also is Rattle's fussiness and Karajan's overblown sonority. Where others focus on one exciting event after another, Luisi is more interested in overall coherence and a continual flow of themes. (One wonders, given how beautifully Luisi conducts, why he severed ties prematurely with the orchestra. Now he's off to the Zurich Opera.) We have been inundated with Heldenlebens over the years, and although any listener could do perfectly well with Karajan, the standard recommendation, Sony might have beaten out DG with its warm, updated sound.
The filler is Metamorphosen, another specialty of Karajan's, but here th engineers have definitely provided a model in how to record massed strings. Luisis is careful about winnowing out each thematic thread. He doesn't press with the intensity of Karajan, and I find this to be an advantage. It's not necessary to give maximum intensity all the time; Luisi certainly is far form slack. But in the end, both of these pieces have been recorded by the top European and American orchestras in completely satisfactory ways, so it may be that the Dresdeners excellent new account will not make much of an impression commercially -- it deserves to.
P.S. -- It's fruitless to comment on Unhelpfuls, but the two that landed on this review within a day are very misguided. This is quite obviously a very good recording, in excellent sound.