Most helpful positive review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Truly outstanding performances sounding better than ever!
on 14 April 2015
These performances have long enjoyed a classic status and deservedly so. I had long admired this Kempe recording of Aus Italian from Dresden on LP and had waited patiently over the years for it to appear on a single CD but it never did. I had bought three CDs from this Kempe cycle, the first being Ein Heldenleben when it first appeared on CD in the UK, joined by the Alpine Symphony - the CD improving on the sound of the orginal LP - coupled to Death and Transfiguration and later a CD of Don Juan, Metamorphosen, Till Eulenspiegel, Salome's Dance. Reading recently on the Internet that Warner Classics had remastered these recordings in 24 bitstream from the original East German 1970s tapes I sampled on Warner's website and was immediately impressed by the snippets I listened to and ordered up the set. I never bought Also Sprach Zarathustra in the previous EMI transfers largely because I felt the original recording and its first CD incarnations sonically at least sounded lightweight especially the timps in the celebrated opening. This new remastering has completely reversed my opinion of that recording, which now has the impact the performance deserves, and demonstrates just what an awesome improvement has been achieved across the set. There is a richer weight, a brighter focused top, more sense of space around the instruments, greater spatial depth...all of which draws one closer to the imaginative conducting and beautiful details of the playing which emerge in pristine colours through these ravishing new masterings. There is simply no comparison on my Hi FI equipment between my three previous CDs from this set and these new Warner masterings. The new CDs allow details to emerge with cleaner articulation and an improved sound stage. I am glad I held over investing in the previous sets of these CDs as this remastering is so much more vivid than I would have thought possible from the orginal tapes on the basis of the previous CD releases. I would recommend this set as the best way to listen to these recordings on CD as the sound is so much richer and more convincing than previously. The performances of Aus Italien and the Alpine Symphony are still amongst the greatest on disc and the the rest of the works in this box are compelling, even more so when sounding so much better than before. I have given up comparing sections from my original CD of Ein Heldenleben with the new Warner release which opens up the sound in even richer, warmer, detail and makes me admire the shaping of phrases and balancing of orchestral textures all the more, thus making one of the finest versions on record even finer. The accounts of Death and Transfiguration and Metamorphosen are in my listening experience are primary choices for these scores. The account of Don Quixote Is up there in my view with the celebrated 1970s Karajan Rostropovich recording from Berlin. I note the comments made by others here that it may depend on the Hi FI equipment that these discs are played as to whether the sound is an improvement but with my Marantz system and KEF speakers the sound just opens up and does not sound so limited as previously. I have also tried this on a personal CD player with BOSE headphones and the sounds comes across as clearly and as richly detailed. From my listening this is simply an exceptionally successful new release of classic readings that still deserve the acclaim they have received and even more so when no apologies need be made for the sound quality! Given this new improved sound my orginal CDs will be heading to the charity shop to find a new owner who I hope will enjoy those discs as much as I have over the years. These very special Dresden Kempe recordings are not the only way and Karajan, Solti, Haitink to name but three leading alternatives have made important Strauss recordings over the years that also deserve their notable reputations but thanks to these new masters I am rediscovering this Kempe cycle afresh in sound that brings one closer to the music and the very special merits of these performances. Great recordings are always great recordings: What music making! Highly recommended and essential listening for Straussians! Sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy!