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Eine Alpensinfonie and Symphonia Domestica in Full Score (Dover Music Scores) Paperback – 1 Oct 1993
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About the Author
A leading composer of the late Romantic and early modern eras, Richard Strauss(1864 1949) is known for his operas ("Der Rosenkavalier" and "Salome"), Lieder, tone poems, and orchestral works."
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There have been accusations in other pieces (Mahler's 6th Symphony in particular) that Dover uses cheap but ancient versions of the scores, that don't always match up to the modern equivalents and the recordings from orchestras. However, this book, containing two of the 20th-century's top tone-poems/quasi-symphonies, is precise and up-to-date with more expensive versions.
Each page is very clear - all notes readable, all dynamics and performance directions. Sometimes one wishes for English translations in situ, particularly with the more obscure German directions, but a quick internet search will appease you. My largest complaint (but not one that warrants a loss of a star) is the lack of bar numbers - if you intend on using Dover scores to conduct, be prepared to slave away adding up all the bars in the piece and on each page and writing in the bar numbers yourself.
The production quality is fantastic - these books do not fall apart, tear easily, or get damaged. All of my scores are still in pristine condition since I bought them in the last five-ten years. The cover pages, typically a thicker and glossy paper compared to the interior pages, can get a little dog-eared. The pages lie flat upon opening with no undue stress on the binding - some other scores will rip themselves apart if you try to keep the page open. If the page isn't flat, breaking the spine is a non-destructive process and the book fully recovers.
Finally the pieces themselves: Eine Alpensinfonie (An Alpine Symphony) depicts an eleven-hour ascent and descent of an alpine mountain - a terrain in which Strauss felt at home. Along the journey are a series of challenges, each delicately and expertly orchestrated. Of special note is the waterfall scene with glistening sound effects. Strauss also uses a windmachine to depict a storm.
Symphonia Domestica (or Domestic Symphony) is the sequel to 'A Hero's Life' and is autobiographical. Strauss orchestrates his household, with father, mother, and son, from activities such as waking up, to eating breakfast. The music is not sedate in the slightest, with some truly awesome orchestral power taking centre stage. Strauss was always tough on his horn section, and the orchestra in general and it shows - if you need a masterclass on an idiomatic but virtuoso writing style, study this.
In conclusion: buy this. It's two great pieces, for a good price. Ideal for any student of music or anyone with any interest at all in the music of Strauss, or Wagner, or Mahler. Superb.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
These two works date from a time and place now past when a respected composer could literally write for any orchestral forces he desired. Eine Alpensinfonie is scored for a huge orchestra (150 instruments, by one count--although not 150 different instrumental parts) and includes hecklephone, windmachine, thundermachine, tenor tubas, and 20(!) French horns--12 are offstage and play only in 21 measures of the piece, for less than one minute. Symphonia Domestica is not quite as gargantuan (as the name indicates) but is still scored for a quite large ensemble, with oboe d'amore and 4 saxophones--soprano, alto, baritone, and the very rare bass saxophone added to the large wind section. These scores are bibles of orchestration--Strauss is a master of handling huge forces, surpassed only by Gustav Mahler, and that arguably. Students of orchestration can learn much about writing for large, professional orchestras from careful study of these pieces; but they are also full of important details that will be helpful for those using smaller ensembles.
Beyond the orchestration, however, lies deep and powerful music. Strauss has been criticized for being overly programmatic and literal, writing trivial music and being derivative of Richard Wagner and Gustav Mahler. But whatever truth these criticisms hold, the fact remains that Wagner, Mahler and Strauss revolutionized music. Aside from their already well-known harmonic innovations and orchestral mastery, they freed melody from its primarily vocal conception, which had limited it from its origin. Where most composers before them would follow a large leap with motion in the opposite direction, thereby restricting the melodic line in musical space, these three composed great soaring lines in which a large leap might well be followed by another leap or stepwise motion in the same direction. The resulting themes often surpass the range of a single instrument; a given melody might, for example, begin in the tuba doubled with bassoon, celli and contrabasses, move to French horns and finally end in the upper registers of flutes, oboes, and violins. Orchestration becomes not simply an assigning of instruments to particular lines, but an inseparable part of the composition of a piece. Whatever flaws Strauss's music might have (and I have to admit that the Storm Scene in the Alpine Symphony, with its wind and thunder machines and the portrayal of raindrops in the pizzicato strings is too cliched for my taste), its glories far surpass them.
Reading the score can also help determine which recording of a work is particularly good. Strauss's layers of counterpoint and his textural conceptions can suffer at the hands of an overenthusiastic brass section (this is the man who said, "Never look encouragingly at the trombones.") or an insufficiently aware conductor. To supplement this score, I enthusiastically recommend Andre Previn's rendition of Eine Alpensinfonie with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, released on Telarc and also available here at Amazon.com.
Some oddities of this edition is that Dover decided to put Eine Alpensinfonie first though it was composed years after the Symphonia Domestica and the opus numbers bare this out. This printing should also have been subtitled "Strauss Tone Poems Volume III" in continuation of the previous 2 Dover Tone Poem releases of Strauss.