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This review is from: R. Strauss: Symphonia Domestica (Audio CD)
This is a disc that I can recommend safely to all but the most knowledgeable connoisseurs. For me, the job of a conductor and orchestra (plus their recording engineers of course) in the Domestic Symphony is to enfold me in a musical comfort blanket. No other composition in any classical music that I know, not even Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony, fulfils that role as completely as Strauss does with this offering. From that angle, I can give very high marks to Wit, the Weimar orchestra and the technical experts. The sound is rich and voluptuous, or at least as voluptuous as I need it, the playing is faultless so far as I could tell, and above all the conductor's command of tempi and continuity is all it should be. Until we get to the finale, there should never be any sense of hurry, `bewegt' or no bewegt in the first movement and `scherzo' or no scherzo indicated for the second. Wit is beautifully relaxed, and he manages that without letting his concentration lapse or allowing the lengthy symphony in its five sections to fall apart into five separate pieces.
If you want competent assessment of how well Wit compares with the `market' in Domestic Symphonies (plus Metamorphosen) as that matter stood in 2009 and 2010 we are fortunate to have detailed notices (both available on the US site) from the respected reviewers Dr Morrison and Santa Fe Listener. I suppose it's really a matter of how many Domestic Symphonies anyone wants. No two music lovers are likely to find that their preferences coincide totally, and they will be lucky to identify one account that outshines all its rivals in every respect. My own guess is that Wit's performance is going to be able to stand up in any company, wherever one may finally `rank' it.
So far as Metamorphosen is concerned, I imagine that Karajan's famous rendering will be the benchmark for years to come yet. Wit's interpretation is once again a fine one, but probably not quite in that class. On the other hand, I doubt that anyone considering buying this disc will decide mainly on the basis of Metamorphosen, which is very much the `filler'. I would add, if I may, that anyone deciding against this purchase on the basis that this Metamorphosen is not some alleged `best' will be missing a trick, because Wit's Metamorphosen will still be an adornment to any collection.
There is a businesslike and informative liner essay, also translated into German, by Keith Anderson, together with background material on conductor and orchestra. I would also like to include my usual thanks and appreciation to Naxos for the admirable job they do, year in and year out, in keeping the musical public supplied with fine music in fine productions at modest cost.