Customer Reviews

9
4.8 out of 5 stars
5 star
8
4 star
0
3 star
1
2 star
0
1 star
0
R. Strauss: Orchestral Works
Format: Audio CDChange
Price:£21.32+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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!
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2013
Rudolf Kempe was one of those great unsung conductors who seemed to have a special relationship to orchestras wherever he conducted. Never a superstar, his supreme musicianship said it all! His sad death at the age of 65 was a great loss. Many of us remember EMI's decision to record the complete orchestral works of Richard Strauss in the early 1970's and we all dutifully collected the four boxes of LPs and were suitably amazed by the extraordinary bonding of Kempe and the Dresden Staatskapelle with its famous association with the composer himself. Strauss was never a satisfactory composer to have on LP as all too often the music necessitated a side change in the middle which virtually ruined Ein Heldenleben and An Alpine Symphony amongst several pieces. Once these famous recordings were transferred to CD the problem resolved itself. In virtually every performance, Kempe proves himself a master who brings to life Strauss's wonderful flamboyant scores. they are such natural performances without an ounce of egotistic distortion. I have yet to listen to all 9 CDs but have managed the Waltz sequence from Rosenkavalier and music from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and loved every minute of them as clearly the orchestra and conductor were totally enjoying themselves - there is real communication here! I remember the previous remastering of these recordings for EMI and thought they were a little dehydrated. This new production by Warner Classics is dated 2013 and claims to be newly mastered from the original tapes. If so, I would deem the remastering a success - great stereo spread, the reverberation of the LukasKirche remains and the whole set is very well balanced. One cannot end a Strauss review without mention of at least two other famous Strauss conductors - Clemens Krauss (who never seemed to make it to the stereo era) and of course Herbert von Karajan. The latter's fame rested upon the very great works of Strauss - he made umpteen recordings of Ein Heldenleben. Selected earlier recordings are rightly famous i.e the Decca Also Sprach Zarathustra or DGs Four Last Songs with Janowitz. The later recordings, in my opinion, were spoilt by odd recording balances. The gift of Rudolf Kempe in Strauss was above all his warm humanity in the scores,and his total understanding of neglected pieces such as Panathenenzug , Josephslegende and Aus Italien, to name a few,scores which I don't believe Karajan ever touched! Kempe for me is the complete Strauss conductor and his remarkable recording of the orchestral works will never, in my opinion, be equalled, let alone surpassed.
33 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The title of this set is misleading, as it does not represent anything like the complete orchestral works of Strauss, the complete recordings of Strauss by Kempe, or even his complete Strauss recordings released on EMI-there is at least a BPO Don Quixote also with Tortelier from 1958 on an earlier EMI mixed box set!

Nit picking aside then, what we have is a 2013 24Bit re-mastering of the much admired Kempe recordings from the early 1970s recorded by VEB of the then DDR and released by EMI who financed the project and retained copyright to the recordings.
The earlier digital masterings had been licensed to Brilliant Classics, who included them in a massive Strauss Box set at a real bargain price, but EMI/ Warner have produced these new masterings and released an equally bargain priced 9 disc set.

When I prepare to listen to a newly mastered Strauss recording by Karajan, Reiner or Maazel it is with air of excitement at the grandeur, drama and intensity of the performance to come.
With Kempe recordings it is with an anticipatory smile, for he was by all accounts the most amiable of artists and that comes across in his performances of Strauss.

The recordings included were rapturously received on their release and have continued to enjoy iconic status, not least because the silken playing of the glorious Dresden Staatskapelle.
The recordings were and are excellent, but I note some extra brightness at the top end which just avoids becoming glare in the new versions. However this is offset by greater detail exposed and they are a definite improvement.
There are caveats-the horn tone of this East German orchestra had become very "blousy" in the Slavic manner, and this is sometimes cruelly highlighted, but overall the playing is lithe and silky.
It frequently does lack weight however when compared to the likes of Karajan's BPO, especially in some of the more densely scored passages, but is at its best in the more chamber like episodes which permeate Strauss's works.

In my view, few if any of the performances could be regarded as "First Choice"-in the case of Ein Heldenleben and the Alpine Symphony Kempe's own live recording from 1975 on Profil of the former and his earlier RPO Alpine Symphony recording from RCA and now remastered by Testament are superior by far, and many adjudge his BPO Don Quixote to be the better version also.

When it comes down to it, the good nature of Kempe results in performances which to my ears just lack the last element of dramatic excitement to make them outright winners!
Best in the collection are Aus Italien, Don Quixote, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and the later chamber works. The music from Capriccio has that blousy horn, as do the 2 concertos and much though I admire Kempe, there is no one performance that I feel I cannot be without as I do with many other eminent Straussians.
On the other hand, there is no performance that is anything less than very fine, and there are glorious passages in each work that equal the best, and as a body of work it is a remarkable achievement.
The works for piano are excellent, though the Burleske lacks the fire of Argerich, Janis or Leonskaja, let alone the fireworks of Lang Lang, but like so many of the performances is beautiful and cultured, with a charming elegance to the lyrical passages from Malcolm Frager.

The big symphonic poems all have sweep and grandeur, but there is a definite suggestion of reduced personnel and the lack of weight translates into a lack of necessary gravitas on frequent occasions.
This is of course further nit picking as I seek to defend myself against those who will be crying for my blood for daring to suggest that Kempe was not the ultimate Straussian, but I would say to them that if Kempe's approach is the ultimate in your ears, I do not complain.

In conclusion-it is a tremendous bargain with great performances in revived sound, and at less than £2 per disc at time of writing it is surely irresistible. Make no mistake-I love every performance on this set, and if you love them more than I do, no-one will be happier.
The perfect entry to the music of Strauss, and a "must hear" addition to any Strauss lover's collection-so 5 Stars. Stewart Crowe.
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 December 2013
Kempe was born in Dresden 1910 and died in Zurich 1976.(Reviews of the CD's further on.)According to Lebrecht,"Beecham who was ungenerous to colleagues, rated Kempe very highly." When you listen to Kempe conducting these orchestra works with the Staats Kapelle Dresden,you can hear he understands how to treat Strauss's sublime melodies which is the mark of a true Straussian.Fritz Reiner who knew Strauss well,was also an excellent conductor of Richards work.But as an old man,Strauss conducted his work with minimal movement of his hands to produce fast tempo's.

The box set is small and the lid opens up and you can place CDs in them,while waiting to play them.A picture of a young Strauss is on the front of the box with light blue on the fringes of the box set.On the back are CD numbers and pieces to be played.The sleeve is exactly like the front of the box with the CD number in light blue,and the back is light grey.On the back is the music to be played and track numbers,plus CD numbers. The larger Strauss opera box is orange,and the orchestral box light blue, because blue and orange are complimentary colours.They have almost the same tonal values.The CDs are black as in the Opera box set.The booklet only has an essay on Kempe.The sound is excellent.I use a 20 year old digital 3 disc tray Sharp CD player to listen to CDs.The sound it produces is better then anything made now.I am not sure why.The Strauss CDs are newly remastered from the original source tapes.I cannot find any sound problems with them as mentioned in the other review.I have been collecting for over 50 years,and know a good remastered CD from a bad one.One would,as I collect singers of the past and they are always remastered.For example, Ponselle singing Violetta in the 1935 Met La Traviata. I owned the Pearl version which was scrachy,and the Naxos,a bit better. Yet the box set Met Verdi legendary singers brings her voice to life as never before.(see my review). I have used reviews from the Penguin guide 1977 and 1996.All CDs from EMI like the opera box set.

(CD 1)ALSO SPRACH ZARATHUSTRA.The opening section is taken very slowly,much more then Reiner's famous 1954 recording,but he does speed up during the tone poem. This piece is the first of his long tone-poems.His sense of humour must have been responsible for the Dance of the Superman being a Viennese waltz. TOD UND VERKLARUNG.Strauss provided a plot for this tone-poem. An idealist is on his death bed who,amid physical pain,recalls his childhood,the loves of his Youth,and his unfulfilled striving towards his ideals. After death,his soul voyages to find gloriously achieved in everlasting space those things which could not be fulfilled here below.When Strauss was dying,he said "Its exactly like I composed it in this tone poem". Der ROSENKAVALIER waltz suite. CAPRICCIO Moonlight from the opera of that name.A very beautiful piece.

(CD 2)TILL EULENSPIEGELS LUSTIGE STREICHE. The tempo's are quick,almost the same as Strauss's tempo's when he conducted his own work. DON JUAN is about "youth's fiery pulses".Strauss once told "those who were married to play the tone poem as if they were engaged then all would be well." For me Kempes version of this tone poem is a revelation.The sheer emotion is brought to the forefront,by his speedy tempo's-marvellous-T. EIN HELDENLEBEN.The heroine is Pauline,drawn in all her moods,from nagging to lover with a beautiful and great violin solo.It is a witty work,never wittier Kennedy writes than in his treatment of the critics."This tone poem glows with life under one of the most distinguished Straussians of our time and the closing pages have a special kind of rapt intensity."The sheer intense emotion pours from this marvellous work-T.

(CD 3)METAMORPHOSEN solo for 23 strings.Here is a work of anguished intensity,played as perhaps only people who knew what the destruction of Dresden meant at first hand could ever play it.(Booklet).Searingly played-T EIN ALPENSINFONIE.It is a well knit,often very moving orchestral creation with a Pantheistic spiritual exaltation not found again until the opera Daphne(see opera box set).It was Strauss's homage to his friend Mahler,for he was working on it when he received news of his friends death."Kempe brings a glowing warmth and humanity to this score,and in his hands it sounds the greater work.Kempe was a very great Strauss conductor,and this tells"

(CD 4)DON QUIXOTE. Paul Tortelier-Cello.It is a tribute to the book. It drew from Strauss some of his happiest melodic inventions. "This performance must rank with the best available." Dance suite from harpsichord pieces by Francois Couperin."Kempe gives a most musical account of the dance suite."

(CD 5)AUS ITALIEN.It has marvellous moments including the beautiful slow movement. "The Dresden orchestra is one of the finest in the world and plays magnificently. This sweeps the board and its rivals"Penguin 1977. MACBETH "is convincing and well paced.".

(CD 6)SALOME dance of the 7 veils."A sinuously sensuous performance." LE BOURGEOIS GENTILHOMME SUITE. SCHLAGOBERS. JOSEPHSLEGENDE.

(CD 7) VIOLIN CONCERTO.Ulf Hoelscher."His eloquent account of this attractive early work is more than welcome". SINFONIA DOMESTICA."Is a little more relaxed without being in any way less masterly".

(CD 8) HORN CONCERTO NO 1 HORN CONCERTO NO 2."After those of Dennis Brain,Peter Damm's performances of the Horn Concerto's are first class.".THe Antante's are shatteringly beautiful-T. OBOE CONCERTO in D. Manfred Clement."It is a sensitive reading." DUETT-CONCERTINO.

(CD 9)BURLESKE in D minor for piano and orch.Malcolm Frager."It is well worth having." PARERGON ZUR SINFONIA DOMESTICA. PANATHENAENZUG."Both written for the one armed pianist Paul Wittgenstein,and played impressively here".

References:Kennedy,M. Richard Strauss.1976.J M Dent and Sons. Lebrecht,N. The Maestro Myth.1997.Pocket books.Penguin Books 1977 and 1996.
33 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
22 of 30 people found the following review helpful
It goes without saying that these are superb interpretations and the playing first rate. However, I wish that I could say the same about these new re-masterings. I have copies of some of the original LPs of these recordings as well as the limited edition nine CD set from 1993 and in comparing them with these new incarnations I would say the new re-masterings come out very much as second best. There has been a reduction of tape hiss and some extraneous noises have been removed. However, this has resulted in a significant loss of the sense of the acoustic space and a less transparent and more opaque sound. Tonally too the timbre of instruments, particularly violins, seem (for want of a better word) thicker resulting in a fatter, bloated sound. I found the experience of listening to these wonderful interpretations very disappointing indeed. If you have the previous editions of these recordings my recommendation would be not to bother upgrading.
99 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 5 January 2015
Excllent recordings of some really good and underated works; I particularly enjoyed the violin concerto. Very useful for those who want a broad canvas of the works of Strauss. Highly rcommended
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 20 December 2014
Brilliant classic performances.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on 30 June 2015
Just what my husband wanted
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 9 March 2014
If you love Richard Strauss and the various Tone Poems and Orchestral works - buy this; just order it and buy it!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
The Other Richard Strauss
The Other Richard Strauss by Richard Strauss (Audio CD - 2014)


R. Strauss: The Great Operas
R. Strauss: The Great Operas by Richard Strauss (Audio CD - 2013)
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.